Everyday Clean and the Field of Clean Language

Co-written with Simon Coles, CEO of Amphora Research

The origins of the Better Conversations program

So many people we speak to say that knowing and learning Clean Language has changed their lives for the better. They have more awareness, are more curious, know how to ask questions that build shared meaning, and are generally better communicators. And our experiences of using Clean both in the workplace and at home is that Clean’s use in “everyday” settings can be as powerful as in any formal situation.

Much of the Clean that finds its way into everyday usage starts off in the Clean training room. Clean Language for coaching, facilitation or therapy purposes involves many hours of training and learning all kinds of “whistles and bells” that are a necessary part of employing Clean techniques safely and appropriately.

As Clean-inspired habits and attitudes can have such a positive impact on how people talk together, Clean approaches rarely stay in the coaching room or facilitation session. They can be found permeating people’s personal and everyday lives too.

However as people who have learnt Clean for professional purposes take it into their everyday lives they discover, on a trial and error basis that many of the bells and whistles are not needed or appropriate for informal everyday conversations at home and work. And the trials and errors can cause problems with friends, family and colleagues.

What we have found in the years of using Clean conversationally at work and home, as well as in coaching situations, is that there is a discernible difference between the use of Clean in the coaching room and Clean used at work and home. Which makes sense when you hear about some of the things David Grove designed into Clean Language was to deliberately disrupt people’s thinking. There is also a tangible difference between communications that are everyday Clean and those that are Clean free (or “dirty” to extend the metaphor of cleaness).

The “Clean-o-meter” is one way to see this of being “squeaky clean” through to dirty (no Clean present).

The Clean”o”meter

And to build on from the Clean’o’meter, here are some some of the “whistles and bells” that make up the professional elements of Clean:

Elements of Clean Language and usage in different settings

As having some Clean awareness and usage in an everyday way can have such an impact on how communications go, we knew that finding a way to teach and pass on Everyday Clean was imperative and we’ve been on a bit of a mission to find a way to do this. 

22 years ago Dr. Caitlin Walker (author of the book From Contempt to Curiosity and creator of Systemic Modelling) did her first work with Clean in business, and participating in that inspired Simon to increasingly use Clean as he started his company, Amphora. After years of experimenting and taking different training courses, Simon has discovered what does and doesn’t work in the workplace. And that’s where the Better Conversations program comes from – a wish to have a framework to share the great bits of Clean that can be taught, used and passed on in an everyday way. 

As we developed and delivered the Better Conversations program, it became clear that the models and mindset we teach are as important as the “Clean” questions themselves. It is a distillation of the good stuff from Clean Language Questions, Clean Coaching and Systemic Modelling, whilst keeping it appropriate and safe within the context of a workplace, where day to day there is no contract for change and has been years in the making. 

Wherever you plan to use Clean, to get the most benefit you need a framework for your intention, be it Coaching, Therapy, or Facilitation. Better Conversations is that framework for Everyday use – a few simple models, an introduction to a small handful of Clean Language Questions, and some experiences to take the theory into practice.

In this way, we hope to introduce Clean to a wider more diverse audience. Let us know you’d like to be part of our journey.  

More about the Better Conversations program is here.

Better Conversations has been designed and developed by Catherine Daley and Simon Coles and funded by Amphora.

3 thoughts on “Everyday Clean and the Field of Clean Language”

  1. Doris Sew Hoy

    Nicely put, Catherine. Useful distillation of the fundamentals of Clean for every day use – love the concept. The Clean’O’Meter’s candidly cute too. Congratulations to you and Simon for getting this out.

  2. Love this image and article. This is a commonly asked question “How clean do I need to be?” and the response is often, “it depends.” Having a simple guide like this can be helpful for monitoring our ‘cleanness rating’ and having the capability to vary from a clean stance in everyday conversations to being squeaky clean, also gives us the capability to pivot from not just a clean stance, but to a well placed clean question if we notice that might best serve a conversation partner or group interaction.

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