“…If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought…”
~George Orwell

At times, things just come out of my mouth… and it’s not until it falls out of my mouth that I’m aware it has an assumption (or two.)  Last week, I was trying to express myself to my friend Sparks; it just wasn’t as clear as it could have been.  In response, instead of frustration, pushing or prodding I hear 3 wonderful words… “Tell me more.”

Respectful Inquiry

It is amazing how things just seem to align… last Tuesday on our Blog Talk Radio show Beyond Lip Service (www.blogtalkradio.com/beyondlipservice), I had the pleasure of interviewing Marian Way (www.apricotisland.com/). Her specialty is Clean Language*, a process for helping others explores their own metaphors, and gain insights into their thinking and behaviors. As the name implies, it is ‘clean / neutral.’ It is also very flexible.


Clean Language started as a therapeutic tool, but can be used with everyday events, including:

  • Interviewing
  • Modeling different skills and perceptions
  • Coaching and feedback
  • Meetings and job appraisals
  • Team building and decision-making
  • Self-discovery and exploration

Clean Language strives to put our assumptions aside to let the other person be heard and understood. That’s when the beauty of “tell me more,” became apparent. Now, “tell me more” is not Clean Language, but it serves a similar purpose…

Consider a statement as simple as  “What are you thinking?” Seems tame enough, yet it assumes that they are thinking something. So it could be changed to, “Are you thinking anything?” Yet, that still assumes they are thinking. Changing the statement to be ‘clean / neutral’ “Is there anything else about that?” could include thinking or feeling or listening or hearing…

Some Clean Language phrases that can be slipped into a conversation are:

  •  “What kind of … is that?”
  • “Is there anything else about that?”
  •  “What would you like?”

The key to using Clean Language and thoughtful communication is not trying to make anything happen. I find again and again, that others have their own answers, and creating an assumption and belief-free zone for someone to discover their own insights is respectful and more effective than any remedy I may come up with.

To learn more about Clean Language and Marian Way, visit www.apricotisland.com

“The human soul doesn’t want to be fixed, it simply wants to be seen and heard. The soul is like a wild animal – tough, resilient and shy. When we go crashing through the woods shouting for it to come out so we can help it, the soul will stay in hiding. But if we are willing to sit quietly and wait for a while, the soul may show itself. ~ “The Courage to Teach” ~ Parker J. Palmer”
Have a great day in whatever your adventure.

To Success!To Life!

*Clean Language was developed by psychotherapist, David Grove, as a way to keep his assumptions at bay, so he could work directly with his clients’ perceptions.