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Thread: What do you mean by "clean"?

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    Default What do you mean by "clean"?

    What do you mean by "clean"?

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    The word 'clean' is a metaphor. In this context, it represents the intention of the facilitator to keep their own stuff as separate as they can from the client's stuff, where 'stuff' equals 'metaphors, opinions, suggestions, orders, analysis, comments' and so on.

    I think it's worth making the point that when we are being 'clean', it IS our intention to influence our clients - we do not pretend to be invisible or outside of the process.

    The way we intend to influence them is by directing their attention to aspects of their own experience, to help them to model themselves. With the understanding of self that that brings, their system can self-organise to create the kinds of experience they want to have.

    Note: I wondered once what it would take for two people to be in the same room and not influence each other. I quickly came to the conclusion that BOTH people would need to be dead.



    James Lawley describes what 'clean' represents more elegantly and accurately in his post What is Clean Language?. Here's a snippet from it.

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesLawley

    Of course Clean Language influences and directs attention -- all language does that. Clean Language does it ‘cleanly’ because it:

    • Is sourced in the client’s vocabulary.
    • Conforms to the logic and presuppositions of the client’s metaphors.
    • Only introduces universal metaphors of form, space and time.
    • Only uses nonverbals congruent with a client’s nonverbals.

    Each time a clean question is asked it establishes a feedback loop between the client and their internal perceptions. Describing these perceptions encourages further information to emerge, which can also be described, which can be further explored, and so on. As this happens the client becomes the viewer-hearer-feeler of the (symbolic) content of their perceptions.

    Because of their universality, clean questions leave the client free to process, respond and answer with whatever information they consider relevant.
    To ask questions on the meaning of 'clean', go to Guest questions or for more in-depth debate, read the other forums on Clean Language in the Working with Metaphor and Research sections.

    Phil Swallow

  3. #3

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    Repeating the point I've posted here
    Phil's definition above seems very useful, however for a contrasting analysis, try this critique of Symbolic Modelling from a meta-states / neuro-semantics perspective. by L. Michael Hall (a review of "Metaphors in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling" by Tompkins and Lawley).
    Although very supportive of the work in developing the use of metaphor:
    The book and model of these authors is a good one and adds much to the NLP model by enriching it, integrating current research in Cognitive Linguistics, systems, and brain research. It enriches the modeling we do in NLP and NS also as it opens up yet another way to model experience and excellence by listening to and exploring the Metaphorical Landscape that people live in.
    he also says:
    As much as Grove and these authors [Lawley & Tompkins] may want to believe that such questions keep the results "clean," they do not. They cannot. These are the words that invite people to invent all kinds of things that was not there before. Yes, focusing on the person's words and symbols does create a focus on a single event, and to some extent explores the person's mental world, but it also invites creating things by that very focus. The symbolic domain, like all facets of consciousness, changes and transforms by the very accessing of it. All memories are like that. With every re-accessing of a memory, the memory will change.
    I think Phil's more recent definition:
    Quote Originally Posted by Phil
    I think it's worth making the point that when we are being 'clean', it IS our intention to influence our clients - we do not pretend to be invisible or outside of the process.
    reflects this critique and shows how the understanding within the metaphor community may have developed - I'd be interested in what Phil or other metaphor practitioners think about this...
    Julian Elvé

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    Default Of course 'Clean' Language influences

    Julian,

    Thanks for giving me a chance to make it clear that as Phil Swallow says 'clean', in the context of a change-process, does not mean 'no influence' or 'no change'. Clean Language, as originally devised by David Grove, is a therapeutic language model and there wouldn't be much point if it didn't influence or promote change.

    Subsequently, Penny Tompkins and I saw the value of Clean Language as way of gathering 'clean' information during modelling. Our development, Symbolic Modelling allows for either use.

    I think part of the misunderstanding arises from between the difference in the intention of a therapist/coach and the intention of a modeller. Therapists have a duty to support their clients to change, modellers have a duty to attempt not to change the client's model.

    I wrote to Michael Hall before he published the article you reference (he kindly sent me a draft) quoting places in the book where we made it clear that 'clean' does not mean 'no influence'. I reproduce the email (slight edited) below. Of course with hindsight I realise we could have been even clearer.

    James Lawley


    Subject: Re: 'A review of Metaphors in Mind'
    Sent: 12/2/01
    To: Michael Hall

    Dear Michael,

    Many thanks for a chance to look at your excellent article. I appreciate both the thoroughness with which you compare Symbolic Modelling and Meta-States/NS, and that you are promoting our work in the E-Journal of NS. As far as I'm concerned, I'm fine with you publishing the article as is, and it prompted a few thoughts which follow.

    As you make clear, there are many overlaps between the two models. I recognise that, although you are credited in the book's bibliography, not overtly acknowledging the overlap with Meta-States was an oversight.

    With regards to the weakness of the book: "They speak of 'clean' language as if we can speak and inquire of anyone without influencing the system", I wonder if you noticed the following sentence and footnote in the book, which I think essentially makes the same point (bold added):

    --------
    "The purpose of modelling is to identify ‘what is’ and how ‘what is’ works -- without influencing what is being modelled. The modeller begins with an open mind, a blank sheet, and an outcome to discover the way a system functions -- without attempting to change it. [footnote 2]" (p.22)
    Footnote 2: "We recognise this is an impossible outcome, since the observer, by simply observing, inevitably influences the person being observed. However this does not affect the desire of a modeller to not influence." (p.287)

    "Of course Clean Language influences and directs attention -- ALL language does that. Clean Language does it ‘cleanly’ because it is sourced in the client’s vocabulary, it is consistent with the logic of their metaphors and only introduces the universal metaphors of time, space and form." (pp. 52-53)
    --------

    What this comes down to is that 'clean' is a metaphor encouraging the facilitator to have the intention of not 'contaminating' the client's Metaphor Landscape with their own (the facilitator's) metaphors. In this respect it acts like the NLP Presuppositions which are designed to guide the facilitator's behaviour rather than be absolute truths.

    It seems to me it is the facilitator's INTENTION that most significantly distinguishes between the Meta-States and Symbolic Modelling processes. As you say, in Meta-States, "questions (are) designed to reframe meanings conversationally". Whereas in Symbolic Modelling the primary purpose of 'clean' questions is so that "a client ... figures out the design of their own ... Metaphor Landscape" p. 24

    I found it fascinating to consider the two models side-by-side and so thank you for stimulating my meta-thinking.

    Best wishes,

    James

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    Coincidentally, I just read an article by Michael Hall (Anchor Point, Vol, 17 No. 9, Oct 2003) which illustrates the differences between much of NLP/Neuro-Semantics and Symbolic Modelling.

    Under the heading The Key Coaching Question

    Michael Hall suggests:

    "Would you like to have your inner genius coached so that you can take your learning, your enjoyment, your achievements, your sense of self, your ability to contribute, and your ability to play and win at the game of life to the next level?" (p. 42)

    A Clean Language Facilitator would ask:

    "And what would you like to have happen?"

    Notice how much of Michael Hall is in the first question and how little of the CL facilitator is in the second.

    I'm not suggesting one is better than the other. I'm just attempting to illustrate that for all the similarities ("Much of what they write in this work sounds like Meta-States and Neuro-Semantics." Michael Hall) there is a significant difference in philosophy.

    James Lawley

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    James

    Thanks for clarifying - and your point (although you didn't put it that way) about Michael Hall's own set of "frames" is well made. Perhaps there is another thread to be explored somewhere about the difference between scholarly articles and marketing material...

    In fairness to Michael, the one training of his that I have taken was very much about the model, backed up by extensive notes - it is quite noticeable though when he flips over from trainer / academic to marketing mode...

    As you say, all therapeutic/coaching interventions must have some underlying assumptions about the need for change and what constitutes a desirable change - perhaps we should use all our preferred tools to make explicit our own frames around our work?

    regards

    Julian
    Julian Elvé

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