• Lars Christensen

Clean Language by Wendy Sullivan and Judy Rees~3 minute read



I finished this book in October 2021. I recommend this book 7/10.

The book is an easy read, but it is heavily centered around psychology. It has made me a better listener, but there is a struggle finding the use of suggestions in this book for a typical business setting. The teachings of this book will only be successful if the person on the receiving end is open and understands that you will ask questions and repeat every word they say, so you both can understand their underlying thoughts.

Get your copy here.

My notes and thoughts:

  • Listen for metaphors; they are the entry to clean language.

  • Ask Name and Address:

  • What kind of X (is that X)?

  • Is there anything else about X?

  • What would you like to have happened?

  • What needs to happen?

  • Is there anything else that needs to happen?

  • Ask yourself, "When I am listening at my best, that's like what?"

  • A bright spotlight illuminating the person who is speaking?

  • A heart-to-heart connection?

  • The speaker's voice rings out loud and clear, and other sounds are muffled?

  • Realizing how much you don't know will naturally encourage you to become curious, to find out. And because clean language questions are designed to include as few assumptions as possible, they are great tools for doing that in a way that feels respectful to the other person. Curiosity with respect is a vital factor in getting those freat answers from people: more specific, more truthful, more comprehensive, and more interesting.

  • Types of clean language questions:

  • The developing questions, which are by far the most frequently used and which include the Name and Address Questions we met earlier.

  • The sequence and source questions are used to clarify the order in which things happen or where a symbol came from.

  • The intention questions, which tend to be most useful when clean, are being used to help a person to change in some way.

  • 12 Basic Clean Language Questions

  • (And) what kind of X (is that X)?

  • (And) is there anything else about X?

  • (And) where is X? or whereabouts is X?

  • (And) that's X like what?

  • (And) is there a relationship between X and Y?

  • (And) when X, what happens to Y?

  • (And) then what happens? Or what happens next?

  • (And) what happens just before X?

  • (And) where could X come from?

  • (And) what would X like to have happened?

  • (And) what needs to happen for X?

  • (And) can X (happen)?

  • Then..

  • Listen attentively.

  • Remember that your assumptions, opinions, and advice are your own.

  • Ask Clean Language questions to explore a person's words, particularly their metaphor.

  • Listen to the answers and then ask more Clean Language questions about what they have said.

  • Activity to create results:

  • Build the dream

  • Develop the desired outcome

  • Ask for a metaphor

  • Develop the desired outcome metaphor

  • Mature any changes

  • Check the sequence and source

  • What needs to happen?

  • Get ready for action

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