Getting Really Specific With The Clean Language Questions

How can you use Clean Language questions to get really specific about what people mean by what they say? I was asked this by a student recently, and it struck me that others might find my answer useful.

When I’m talking about Clean Language at a very high level, for example in conference keynotes and other short events, I tend not to dig down to this level of detail. But once you start to ask these questions a lot, this technique is worth being aware of.

Several of the Clean Language questions can be used in the three forms:

  • What kind of X?
  • What kind of X is that?
  • What kind of X is that X?

For example:

  • What kind of rose? (quite casual)
  • What kind of rose is that? (invites specificity)
  • What kind of rose is that rose? (invites distinction from other possible roses)

The third version can get really, really specific. It can help people to get right into the nitty-gritty stuff they’re working with, and distinguish between things that appear to be quite similar. 

Here’s an example from a recent practice session. The client realised that when they were asked about what they’d said they wanted, “a metaphor to take root in my body and brain and grow”, they heard “not root as in a tree root, but route, like a journey”. The coach might then ask “and when ‘route like a journey’, WKO route is that route?” 

  • Why not try using the three different forms of “what kind of?” Notice what happens – and please post your observations below. 

1 thought on “Getting Really Specific With The Clean Language Questions”

  1. A wonderful reminder of the very power of CL! Even those three little questions can bring much clarity to the client and open the doors for multiple ways to proceed in exploring their inner architecture.

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