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16 January 2016 Chapter Meeting

Up Close with … Caitlin Walker


Core Competencies 1
Resource Development 1


When You’re Coaching At Your Best, You’re Like What?

Using Clean Language to Explore Your Inner Landscape

Clean Language is a sophisticated and elegant way to work with clients’ metaphors. It was developed in the 1980s by David Grove as a way to respectfully question the words and phrases people use to describe their experience. The coach does not introduce any content apart from very simple questions, which help the client to build on their own awareness. To do this, the coach has to set their own inner world aside and make the client’s inner landscape the focus of their joint attention.

During this interactive session you will learn:

        • What assumptions you are making a split second after someone speaks
        • How to keep your assumptions to yourself so you can work with your client’s actual experience

The basic Clean Language questions and how to ask them for maximum impact

        • How to uncover the structure of someone’s thinking by developing the metaphors they naturally use to express themselves
        • More about your own metaphor for when you are coaching at your best – and what difference knowing that makes

Details of the Session

The session will begin with a brief introduction and an explanation of the agenda.

Then Caitlin will ask the question, “What would you like to know before we begin?” This is a clean way of starting as it does not make assumptions about the kinds of things people want to know about. People generally want to know things like “What is Clean Language?” “How does it fit with coaching?” etc. But rather than assuming this is what people want to know, they are given an opportunity to define this for themselves.

Next, she will run an activity called “Making Sense”. During this, people will deepen their understanding of the idea that people perceive things in different ways and how easily we form assumptions about what people mean. During this activity Caitlin will introduce some of the basic clean questions and get people asking and answering them.

Following this Caitlin will talk briefly about metaphor and how metaphors can reveal the structure of our thinking. She will do a short demonstration of “When you’re coaching at your best, you’re like what?” using Clean Language to develop their perceptions, and then everyone will work in pairs to develop one another’s metaphors.

Finally she will ask: “And what do you know now?” and “And is there anything else you would like to know now?”

Learning Outcomes:

        • Coaches will learn about Clean Language and how to use clean questions to clarify meaning. They will be able to use basic clean questions in their coaching sessions to help clients to expand on their ideas.
        • Coaches will learn about metaphor and how working with a client’s self-generated metaphors will allow them to work with the underlying structure of someone’s experience. They will be able to identify metaphors in their client’s language and ask clean questions to develop them.
        • Coaches will deepen their own understanding and awareness of what they do and who they are as a coach. While it is impossible to predict what benefit they will gain from this (everyone will get a different benefit), working this way can tend to lead to exciting and powerful revelations.
        • Coaches will learn how to use clean questions to help one another to develop “When you’re coaching at your best, you’re like what?” They will be able to use the same methodology to work with clients on other topics, e.g. When you’re learning at your best; When you’re leading at your best; When you’re parenting at your best… whatever the context requires.

ICF Core Competency areas this session supports:

#5 and #6: Active Listening / Powerful Questioning

Clean Language is a discipline that involves accurate recall of the client’s words – and asking simple yet powerful questions of those words. There will be many opportunities throughout the session for participants to learn about and try out clean questioning.

#8: Creating Awareness

The “Making Sense” activity will deepen awareness amongst participants of just how differently we all interpret the words, phrases and gestures people use to express themselves. They will also learn some basic clean questions, which are designed to create awareness.

#10: Planning and Goal Setting

By asking, “What would you like to know before we begin” Caitlin will be demonstrating how individuals can take a ‘clean’ approach to goal setting by keeping assumptions to a minimum. It’s also possible that, in response to individual questions, Caitlin will talk about specific clean questions that can be used to help individuals to gain clarity about their desired outcomes.

Click here for Caitlin’s bio.