Who Uses Clean Language – And Why?

Teachers. Software development teams (especially Agile ones). Facilitators. Hypnotists. Managers. Health professionals. Distributed teams and their leaders. Entrepreneurs. Coaches. Students. Academics. Bodyworkers. Neurodiversity campaigners. Trainers. Sales people. Unemployed teenagers. Mediators. Marketers. Psychotherapists….

The varied list of professional (and other) groups that use Clean Language just keeps on growing.

Next week I’m speaking at a hypnosis conference near Heathrow Airport; the week after I’m part of an online event for remote workers; then later in the month at a software development event in Sweden. And Clean Language provides the link.

Can we learn something about Clean Language by noticing the groups within which it tends to catch fire – and perhaps by spotting the ones where nobody’s much bothered?

What I notice is that the groups where Clean Language “catches” all have a particular interest in human-to-human interaction. They all recognise that changing those interactions is going to make a difference, for themselves and/or their clients.

The specific way in which learning Clean Language changes those interactions varies by group.

For example, hypnotist James Tripp uses Clean Language to make his videos of work with clients “look like wizardry” (as one student said recently) while academics can use it to remove bias from their interview scripts. Teachers and mediators can both use it in conflict resolution. Coaches and psychotherapists can mix it in with other tools, or use it as a standalone methodology.

Each group is taking something different from Clean Language.

For some, the “Cleanness” of the questions is the thing, whether because it helps the asker to evade people’s defences and get a hotline to the subconscious mind; or perhaps because the asker wants to “lead the witness” as little as possible.

For others, it’s the fact that Clean Language empowers people and helps them to make their best possible decisions. Other groups love Clean’s metaphoric aspects, and/or its ability to help people to build relationships across cultural and other boundaries.

The human-to-human interactions can be one-to-one, or across groups. But noticing where Clean Language has never taken off, despite exposure, I think we know the interaction needs to be more than one way. Pure “broadcasters” see no value in Clean at all.

  • What have you noticed about who uses Clean Language? Please comment below.
  • There’s a playlist of short videos recorded by people who use Clean Language here. Let me know if you have one you’d like to add.

2 thoughts on “Who Uses Clean Language – And Why?”

  1. Hi,
    I use Clean Language to improve the communication in the organizations I do support. I consider it a double side effect approach influencing both senders and receivers.
    As an agile coach, I consider organizations as complex systems where “agents” are interacting together. That interaction is mostly behavior our communication-related.
    Testing it for a couple of months, the outcome is almost fantastic and lead my “experts” to talk in metaphors and even drawing their meaning.
    Clean Language, for me, is part of my genuine org coaching process linked to Cynefin and empirical micro-narratives capture. Those micro-narratives are the “engagement” part of a larger story. The larger story being nothing more that organizations purpose.

    Hope it makes sense for you and your readers.



  2. Re. neurodiversity: as neurotypical person sharing life with person on “spectrum”, when I was looking at Clean Language ideas for the first time my first thought was “sounds like something an Aspie would like, or maybe develop…” 😉 :o)

    I see great potential for Clean Language among systemic change activists and practitioners. For us to really make a difference in the context of planetary emergency, effective conversations with “non-us” are crucial. Hence “popping bubbles”: https://medium.com/virtual-teams-for-systemic-change/popping-bubbles-550d02a6f7ac

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