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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helping people be all that they can be, 22 Jan 2009
This review is from: Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds (Paperback)
"Clean" language, developed originally by David Grove, has been an interest of mine since I read "Metaphors in Mind" (Lawley and Tomkins). So, I was very interested to see the approach taken by Wendy Sullivan and Judy Rees. I'm impressed by this book's, simplicity and practicality. For the uninitiated or novice "clean" user, this book has some great application strategies, techniques and tips.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of "clean" questioning, it is a way of helping another person find answers without giving advice. This may sound similar to the contemporary model of "coaching", so popular today, particularly in the business context. However, "clean" is substantially different. "Clean" is as clean as possible of the questioner's assumptions, opinions and metaphors. Furthermore, although listening is an integral component of the process of clean, it definitely does not use techniques such as paraphrasing, summarising etc, for these automatically provide the opinion of the questioner.

Chapter headings are not normally my cup of tea (there's a metaphor for you!). However, Sullivan and Rees have selected some gems that add to the explanation and the reader's understanding of "clean". Two that particularly sum this up are, "No-one ever listened themselves out of a job" (Colin Coolidge, U.S. president) and "The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people's thinking" (Nancy Kline).

As Sullivan and Rees suggest in their introduction, the book is "designed to put Clean Language in people's hands, worldwide, ready to be used whenever it could be valuable". To my mind, they have achieved their aim. The book has 16 chapters, each of which has a select number of practical activities which enable the reader to practise the concepts. There are just 12 "clean" questions and each is covered in detail. They form three clusters, Developing Questions (to encourage a person to become clear about what's true for them), Sequence and Source Questions (to tease out the sequence of events), Intention Questions (to help the person establish what they would like to change).

This is a great book. If you are really interested in helping other people, then I would suggest reading this book, undertaking the activities, then reading it again. It's one that I will certainly be using in my role as management and leadership coach and facilitator. Highly recommended.

Bob Selden,
Author, What To Do When You Become The Boss: How New Managers Become Successful Managers
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