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Thread: What is 'clean' about Clean Language?

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    Thumbs up What is 'clean' about Clean Language?

    As more people learn David Grove's Clean Language, it has been alleged that some want to take the language and not the clean, while retaining the association with the good reputation of David Grove and his Clean Language processes.

    While those of us who like working cleanly may deplore this possibility, it is probably a fact of life that it is bound to happen at some stage - and more than once and probably repeatedly. The way of the world? One way, certainly.

    I guess - at a stretch - it would be possible to frame it as encouraging that opportunists regard David Grove's Clean Language processes with a keen eye. Happily we too have keen eyes to look back.

    Whatever actions individuals take outside the forum in response to such things, I can't see much point us all venting emotions here about it, especially not in writing (for legal reasons). Personally I would rather we spend the time constructively for the clean community. There may be many ways to do this and I welcome your initiatives to that end. Here's one from me...

    Looking for ways to use the situation for learning and growth, it reoccurred to me that we really do need a more coherent and congruent description of:

    • what we mean by being clean/not-clean,
    • what's important about clean,
    • what makes our communication clean or not clean
    • and many other questions beside...

    Notice I distinguish here between clean and 'Clean Language'. Clean Language has started to sound like a brand of late, inevitably so I guess. This lazy-lipped habit (IMO) that we have fallen into makes it easier for anyone using David Grove's facilitation style and processes to say they are using Clean Language, even though we might not consider the way they are doing it to be clean at all.

    All language influences both the listener and the speaker* in some way. Clean Language is no exception. Is that not paradoxical - that clean involves influencing? Not at all, I think and maybe over the course of the next few weeks, more will be said on the subject.

    For now though, over to you. What kind of influence is a 'clean' influence and how is that different (or not) to a non-clean influence? What defines clean? For you? For David Grove? For anyone?

    What question do you want to answer about this that I haven't asked?

    Phil


    *or the reader and the writer

  2. #2

    Default What is 'clean' about Clean Language

    Hi Phil and all,

    This is a really useful discussion to have, I will post some 'off the top of my head' thoughts now and hopefully will have time for a longer post over the weekend.

    What we mean by being clean/not-clean:

    Being clean to me means a combination of skills, knowledge areas and attitudes:

    * keeping your own assumptions, opinions, stories, intentions and of course metaphors out of your communication

    * recognising that the above is impossible to do 100%, so limiting as much as possible and being self-aware to notice when your own 'stuff' is creeping into your thoughts and into your questions / questioning direction

    * Being a 'mirror' for the other person, accurately reflecting back their words and asking a correctly phrased clean question to elicit more information

    What's not clean:

    * You ask a Clean Language question with the intention of directing the other person to your own opinions / desired outcomes.

    * You lack self-awareness, you believe that you are being clean but your own intentions are influencing your questions / question choice (yes it must be happening all the time!)

    So, it seems to me we have a continuum with clean at one end of an extreme and not clean right at the other.

    However, if we agree that being 100% clean is v difficult to achieve, we need to accept this. It seems that a person who denies the possibility that they are influenced by their own intentions means (to me) they are not self aware and therefore not clean.

    Does that make sense?

    Anyone else please like to comment I promise to send a clearer post soon.

    Angela x

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    Thanks for starting this post Phil, and for Angela in making a valuable off-the-top-of-her head contribution.

    A little while ago Penny and I came up with a list which seems relevant to the discussion.

    When we are 'applying the principles of a Clean approach' we:

    • Accept ‘what is’ (current reality)
    • Respond to what happens (utilisation and serendipity)
    • Presuppose that we live out of the models we have created (experiential constructivism)
    • Presuppose that patterns of verbal and nonverbal language indicate patterns of internal process
    • Presuppose the centrality of metaphor (especially space and force)
    • Honour the idiosyncratic aspects of each of us
    • Value diversity (within and across individuals and groups)
    • Facilitate self-modelling of how the client’s system works and it’s choice points
    • Sort for salience within the information presented (clean musing)
    • Use Systemic Outcome Orientation (vectoring, directing attention strategically)
    • Have an intention for change while having no intention to change the client/system
    • Respect the role and ethics of client's desired outcomes (intention)
    • Trust in the ‘wisdom of the system’
    • Calibrate when what we are doing isn’t appropriate for the client/system.
    • Adopt a Clean philosophy throughout (code congruence across levels, time and contexts)

    We recognise others 'do clean' using different criteria and the above obviously isn't a definition of 'clean'. I'll be surprised if we can agree on a definition that doesn't end up sounding like a lot of others approaches.

    From a systemic perspective, it seems to me that 'being clean' is a relationship between two or more people. It requires us calibrate the client's response to know that (a) we are being clean and (b) that has value for them. To presuppose either without some kind of feedback risks being unethical.

    In some ways 'clean' seems to be a "pattern that connects" a whole raft of behaviours and attitudes, and in that respect it isn't a something that can be nailed down. At best we can indicate the pattern's existence with lists, stories, examples, etc., and most of all direct experiences. I sure know when I am the recipient of a clean approach and when I am not, even if I can't put that into words.

    Best, James

  4. Default

    I think that part of the problem, in the wider world, is that there is more than one system being marketed as "Clean Language". One is the approach developed by David Grove with the basic questions at the core. Another is "Clean Language" as in local health and social services who try to keep their reporting "clean" of any personal judgments or discriminatory bias. I was asked to run a workshop on "Clean language" at a hospital by someone (who I knew from my former life as a senior health and social services manager) who had heard that I used Clean Language. I quickly recognised that what she wanted was not what I used as (Grovian) Clean Language (is it ok to use that shorthand term to make the distinction here?)- and having clarified that, I offered to run the workshop on the clean language as in "clean of any personal judgments or discriminatory bias." However- I have also come across "Clean Language" presented in counseling and hypnotherapy training, as a way of not introducing personal stuff and personal bias into the sessions and definitely nothing to do with the basic questions. With at least 3 types of "Clean Language" being bandied around, its no wonder that there is some confusion what is what and what is not for the non-Grovian-Clean-language-expereinced public, and thus in dire need of "what kind of clean language is that?" While we may be looking inwards and trying to agree what Clean Language is to us , we also need to be aware of how to market that "cleanly" to other people. It is important for (Grovian) Clean Practitioners to enable the world to understand the distinction and not just ignore "Clean language" because they already "know" what that is and they don't see it as relevant - when really the kind of "know" they experience is something else with the same label.
    janet

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    Default

    IMO Clean Philosophy is the art of minimising the projective intrusion of facilitator reality/energy/emotion/communication into the client, and maximising the flow of the client's own reality and emergence, working WITH their signals, with overtones of the homeopathic minimum dose and 'similacrum' that David espoused (similar, not on the sweet spot).

    Clean Language relates to the verbal, tonal, linguistic and body-language/gestural/facial aspects of this philosophy. A clean question or instruction is design to go to the adjacent place to the last answer's responding location (in space or time or flow-momentum), that has the 'next' emergence to emerge (nicely self-referential!)

    Ultimately, Heisenberg rules and the observer will affect the experiment, so the aim is to have the least malificent effect.

    The metier of clean language would include David's and the developments made by many of us over the years. Maintaining, approving, accrediting etc such a large range is no trivial task.

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    Default Clean Influence

    Let me call the facilitator now "the clean influencer" and the "client" as 'the respondent".

    Influence, by its very nature, implies one person or force acting upon another person or force.

    Starting from the premise of clean being about "minimising the projection of the 'speaker of the clean language' ", then clean influence would use clean language and philosophy to help respondents to come to:

    a) informed decisions about something, perhaps in relation to conducting business with the clean influencer,
    b) learn "clean language"
    c) a carrot attractor (can there be a clean stick?)

    What I would NOT include in clean influence would be:

    a) the clean influencer controlling any aspect of the respondent
    b) the clean influencer emplanting their own metaphors into the client
    (and for teaching/training clean language we have to do some of this to pass across new concepts, be we can acknowledge this is a requested emplanting because the person has come to learn to facilitate cleanly)
    c) any of the NLP or hypnotic tricks, state management, anything that is "doing to" rather than "working with"
    d) our marketing efforts where we would be manipulating the reader/viewer

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    Default other language models referred to as 'clean language'

    To add to the list of confusing decoys, there is also a computer language called Clean...

    I agree that as well as coming up with a mutually acceptable description of what we mean by 'clean language', we also need to then make that clear to the world - and perhaps more actively so than we have in the past, what with various others making claims about it that we don't all agree with.

    I have for some time been tending towards using the phrase 'David Grove's Clean Language' or occasionally 'the Clean Language of David Grove' when writing or speaking of the subject to people unfamiliar with it. I suppose my hope is that it may put into the mind of the listener the question: 'Who is David Grove?' and maybe 'How is his Clean Language different to other language (and other 'Clean Languages'?', which could start a search for more information, while also keeping David the man adjacent to his work.

    When I think of CLDG (sorry - it's just a bit long to type out each time...), I think first of the questions I learned first which were the questions he was asking me on my first personal journey (late 90s I think - before I met Penny and James and trained in Symbolic Modelling anyway). Things like 'What kind of...?' and 'Is there anything else about...?' and 'Where does... come from?'. Then I think of the later clean questions in processes like Clean Space ("What do you know here?") and Emergent Knowledge.

    None of it entirely clean of course; impossible. As Angela and Steven point out, we can't take ourselves out of the system. A common thread of clean intent though and that's what was most impressive and moving to me as a client - the intention and the capacity of someone to work with MY experience as if it mattered, rather than as an expert patronising me, explaining how wrong I was and how right they were.

    So yes, one aspect of what clean is involves accepting that we do influence (which we always have accepted anyway) and that clean resides in maintaining and enacting the clean intention (PROCESS desired outcome) to facilitate the other person to work with their own CONTENT with the minimum intervention from us that we can manage.

    That's what David devised the Clean Language questions for, as I understand it.

    Phil

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    Thank you Phil,
    GCL - Grovian Clean Language? Just a thought.

    Relating to why he devised clean language, and accepting he might have told each of us different things at different times, David told me a lot about his thinking and reasoning behind his work. He said it was sponsored by addressing dissociation, and by seeking to enable healing by re-associating the dis-associated selves. The clean language was present as part of the wider desire to minimise his projection into the client's system and to maximise the ease of migration of the dis-associated self back into the body.

    If I am to politely question the clean community, then it is that the modern work is not aligned with David's original aim, but that he was very pleased, joyful even, to see the multiplicity of new forms that were emerging as his community grew their own applications and ways of working.

  9. Default

    Dear All,
    I feel very rewarded to even be able to join the forum and I have invested so much mental energy in getting here that I hardly remember what I wanted to say about CLEAN.

    As some of you know I operate out of France (Paris) and took the decision to start teaching French coaches how to work with what I call the 3 Grovian techniques of Clean Language, Clean Space and Power of Six which I recently changed to Emergent Knowledge. I made a clear decision after David's death in 2008 that I only wanted to teach his work to already trained coaches because I made the assumption that the ground work for working with CLEAN would have already been acquired.

    Of course when I came to teaching others I discovered what I didn't know myself and I realise the more I teach others the more I discover about the work myself. The Clean Language questions are available on a website and in Penny & James' book as are Clean Space processes and questions. The Power of Six is available in Philip Harland's book so what exactly am I teaching of David's work? I think I am teaching coaches to work with a delicate juxtaposition of "souplesse et rigueur". I think I am teaching them to suspend their own assumptions about the client's model of the world long enough for them to actually hear what the client is saying; to unclutter their own minds enough for them to sit in the unknown with the client willing and curious about the undiscovered knowledge that will emerge at some point in response to questions that invite this emergence; to acknowledge their use of influence in directing questions via their voices to their client's physiology etc......

    Learning to work with David's Clean Language Questions is like a yogaasana practice to me. By training the mind to work with the initial strangeness of these linguistic structures, the mind gains malleability and loosens its hold on preconceived ideas about what coaching is and what needs to happen in a client session. I like to say to the people I train that we are our first clients ie we can't get a handle on what it means to be a Clean Coach until we have experienced the excitement of being a client - recipient of Clean. Of course they can't know the absolute wonder of being a "recipient" of David's work as practiced by David himself but I can tell many wonderful anecdotes of the extraordinary experience of his "client". I notice that coaches respond very well to Clean Space techniques and even more so to the Power of Six because they seem so much easier to work with than Clean Language.

    This "easiness" leads me to the question of what it means to be Clean in the way we work with clients, the way I teach others to work with the techniques. It seems to me that these three techniques facilitate the emergence of client knowledge in a way that allows the client to acknowledge what s/he knows and action in the direction of change seems to become something obvious - unforced. I cannot add to what James wrotebecause is so extensive and inclusive of all that I would want to say about Clean practices and being Clean. There is something that I find impossible to teach which has something to do with being in and out of the sytem that has been constructed with the client in the time that is available for the session. There is a resonance within the system that guides me as a coach and directs my questions.

    The rigueur comes from having learnt the clean questions, from having learnt how to work with a spatial expression of the client's issue / world, from having understood the power of the iterative question and the "souplesse" comes from tuning into the flow of energy within the system and allowing myself as a coach to follow it into the mystery of what is unfolding in the now. It is being attuned to the micro movements and making decisions about when to move with them or not. It is about maintaining attention which holds the system in dynamic tension. It is about being OK if absolutely nothing happens knowing that something is happening even when it appears not to be. It is about staying liberated from internal dialogue and recognising it when it is making itself known and potentially interfering with the client process. It is about knowing what part of the process in the client / coach relationship belongs to me, where the fuzzy lines are and what really belogs to the client.

    Having said all this on this the 3rd day of january 2011, it may be different tomorrow because if nothing else Clean is a learning process and David was my model par excellence of someone who ever remained curious about how the mind / consciousness works and its impact on our lives - clients or coaches or whatever.

    Lynne (Burney) not to be confused with Lynn Bullock of Feldenkrais fame
    Last edited by phil; 04 January 2011 at 11:07 AM. Reason: breaking up into paragraphs for ease on the eye

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    I like Steve's definition of clean:
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Saunders View Post
    IMO Clean Philosophy is the art of minimising the projective intrusion of facilitator reality/energy/emotion/communication into the client, and maximising the flow of the client's own reality and emergence, working WITH their signals, with overtones of the homeopathic minimum dose and 'similacrum' that David espoused (similar, not on the sweet spot).
    And I'd like to offer a variation whose wording may be more accessible to the less initiated:
    A clean approach minimises the contamination of the client’s interior and exterior worlds by the facilitator’s behaviour; and by working with the client’s verbal and nonverbal cues, maximises the flow of the client's own reality and creative emergence.
    I would have thought that the combined intelligence of this forum could come up with a form of words which may not satisfy every individual but is good enough to serve as a working definition that can be quoted (and used as the basis for research, for example).

    Thanks Steve for giving us a great platform from which to build.

    James

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    Talking working definitions of Clean

    For me, a Clean approach is based on working to reduce the impact of the questioner's subjective experience on the client's subjective experience.

    From a research point of view, Clean combines the aim of collecting unbiased, objective 'data', which is the goal of a positivist epistemology, with a constructivist understanding that the story of subjective experience is worthwhile evidence to collect.

    From a practitioner point of view, ongoing Clean training and supervision helps me to identify when I am basing my actions on client experience and when I am directly influencing from my own experience. As a professional both are appropriate and it is vital to know the difference.

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    I forgot to add that i completely agree it is impossible to be completely clean AND i think that a relentess pursuit of clean-ER interventions and actions is an excellent form of CPD and professional development. It certainly feels rigorous to me!

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