A year ago I blogged about Non-Violent Communication as a means to avoid judgement and find needs. Now I think I found something even more radical (once again via Andrea Chiou): Clean Questions / Clean Language.
With Clean Language, not only do you forego judgement, you don’t even offer interpretations. It’s a bit like the game “Taboo”: You can only use words that the other person has used first. (As Clean Language was developed by therapist David Grove, the “other person” is usually a client.)
Examples of Clean Questions – X is a something said by your client:
- And that X is like what?
- Where is that X?
- And is there anything else about X?
- And what needs to happen for X?
While asking these simple, repetitive questions, you look out for metaphors used by the other person and take them literally. Metaphors make it possible to access, talk and possibly resolve very deep, semi-conscious things that would be hard or impossible to address directly:
If a client feels they don’t make progress at work, then “It’s like smashing myself head-first into a brick wall” vs. “It feels like running on a treadmill, going nowhere” describe very different experiences.
Here’s an excellent TEDx Talk on how Caitlin Walker used Clean Questions to help under-privileged teenagers to deal with anger:
I’m still on the lookout for an opportunity to try this out. If you’d like to try, here’s a great article on how to apply Clean Questions in a business context.
What do you think about the concept of Clean Language? Have you already used Clean Questions? How did it go?