Being skilled in Clean Language gives you tremendous power to influence people.  There, I've said it. For many enthusiasts, my statement is anathema. They'll claim: "The whole point of Clean Language is to honour the other person's model of the world and NOT influence." But there's a lot more to it. It's more complex, and more interesting, than that. They know that Clean Language is one of the most effective ways to help people to change. They use it because it is effective at influencing people, in a positive way, at a very profound level. And - beyond beginners - they know it can be used to influence in less-than-positive ways as well. There is a paradox at the heart of the relationship between Clean Language and influence, as I spell out in my new e-book, The Persuasion Paradox. The leading experts in persuasion all agree that the most effective way to influence somebody is not to “try to influence” them by talking at them. It’s much more effective to listen to them, and allow them to convince themselves. So in fact by seeking to “not influence”, Clean Language facilitators are being potentially very influential! And here's another thing. Clean Language facilitators may not use tricksy language patterns to manipulate people. But because of their awareness of metaphor and embodied cognition, they are likely to take control of conversations using techniques which operate at a more profound level. For example, they will pay particular attention to the environment in which a conversation takes place, thus setting a particular frame and making particular behaviours more likely. They also have well-developed skill in directing people's attention by using questions. And when you direct a person's attention, you can influence the emotions they experience: the emotions which drive their behaviour. Is this "not influencing"? If someone calls a meeting, books the room, arranges the furniture, decides the agenda and then takes full control from the chair, directing the group's attention to specific aspects of the matters at hand, you don't claim that person is not influencing the participants! And so, in at least these three different ways, Clean Language facilitators are actively influencing people when they are doing their job effectively. And they do influence, very effectively.

    2 replies to "Clean Language And Influence"

    • Maarten Aalberse

      We also direct attention by selecting the words “to, parrotphrase” and by deleting other words the client has said…

      For instance, when we come back to “key” words the client has said a few minutes earlier (something I find very helpful), which words do we decide to be “key”?
      Because in this decision, the chosen words will become more “key” both for the speaker and for the listener…

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