The Smooth Ideavirus

I've spent a bit of time this week tidying up my Intelligent Influence website. (Do pop over there if you'd like some free videos!) I've got material that I want to get out into the world about persuasion, influence and even (gasp!) manipulation, and to achieve my goal in the internet age I have to make it easier for people to find the information, and to share it with their friends. Smooth, in fact. Smooth like what? Like the spiral-stair-slide picture that people have been sharing on Facebook (left)! Because as Seth Godin points out in Unleashing the Ideavirus, "Persistence matters... cool is critical... smooth is essential because if you make it easy for the virus to spread, it's more likely to do so." It's got me thinking, yet again, about why Clean Language is not a particularly smooth ideavirus. After all, the technique can be incredibly powerful, and the only way to become good at using it is to practice with other people. So how come every learner isn't sharing the concept with hundreds of other people, who are clamouring to grab it? Instead, the idea is spreading relatively slowly. I think there are at least a couple of issues:
  • Clean Language may be simple, but it's not easy. Beginners typically find it clunky and awkward to start with. They may be embarrassed by questions which "sound weird" or may upset people by exploring metaphors for problems.
  • Explaining what Clean Language is can be very confusing: explaining what it does is best done with a demonstration, rather than a description.
  • When Clean Language is done well, it's almost invisible. Clients are often so engaged as their thoughts spring to life that they hardly notice the process - and so don't ask about it or share it.
What do you think? Please comment below.

4 thoughts on “The Smooth Ideavirus”

  1. Maarten Aalberse

    In what way Provocative therapy and Clean Language are similar?
    OK, that seems like a bizarre question – as in many ways they are soo dissimilar.
    And yet, they have one thing in common, IMO, that touches what you write here: both have to be experienced from the inside. Looking at a session, or reading a transcript is a very different thing -and can lead to impressions that are rather off the mark…

    So yes, help people experience it rather than trying to get the word out, I’d say.

  2. They’re connected in other ways, too. Frank Farrelly and David Grove shared a mentor – I’m afraid I don’t remember the name, but they both trained with this person, I think in Minnesota.
    And of course they were both targetting the same fly in the therapeutic ointment – how to limit the influence of the therapist’s content.
    On an occasion when I said to David that I was going to see Frank the following week he asked me to carry regards, and to mention this shared mentor. My impression was that Frank didn’t know who David was, but did know the name of the shared mentor very well. David was very disappointed that he couldn’t get to see Frank.

  3. It was only after a compelling experience that I became a fan and user of Clean Language in earnest. It seems like words-of-explanation are like “jagged rocks” and cannot paint the “rainbows” in the mind that form once the “Clean” questions open up the “hidden chambers of the mind”. So there 🙂

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