Sarah Scarrat tells us of her experiences of clean language

I first came to the world of Coaching via NLP. During my early training courses, I kept hearing the phrase “Keep it Clean!” and back at home and doing some more internet learning, I discovered the book “Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds “, by Judy Rees and Wendy Sullivan. 
What I particularly loved about Clean Language is that I could practise on myself.  If I’d had a lousy day, I could ask myself “What kind of lousy was that lousy day?”  “And is there anything else about lousy?” and without adding extra (unhelpful) judgements, I could unpick exactly what it was that had made that day be lousy. 

Then I could ask the essential question “And when it’s like that, what would I like to have happen?”.  Straight away, I could see that I was an actor of my own destiny, not obliged to put up with situations.  That I had a role to play.  A choice in how I would like things to turn out.  And I loved the ‘playfulness’ of the method. 
By using metaphor, I could visualise scenarios and get creative, imagining how I’d like things to be, and coming up with images, mantras, and feelings I could really anchor.

I copied out the Clean Language questions (CLQ) on to some small bits of paper and carried them about in my bag, ready to put them to use.  I discovered that you really can use them in ‘everyday life’.
When my 17-yr. old daughter asks if she can go to a party, I can ask “What kind of party” and get more information about the party without the usual mother-daughter conflict. 

If a student says they are feeling nervous, I ask “What kind of nervous?” and maybe ask “when you’re feeling nervous, what would you like to have happen?” 
For who am I to impose my version of nervous on them?  I know how I am when I’m feeling nervous, but I don’t know what it’s like for them.  Nor do I know what that nervousness is doing for them.  Do they want to keep on feeling nervous and therefore motivated to work hard?  Or is that nervousness stopping them from continuing? 

With CLQ, I can ask non -judgemental questions to find out more and let them decide what they want to do next.  CLQ also help in working out a sequence or pattern: “
And what happens just before (or just after) nervous?” And they can help work out relationships between things “And is there a relationship between nervous and motivation?”

In my experience, telling people what to do, advising people doesn’t work.  We’re all unique.  We’ve had different upbringings; we have different family set-ups, beliefs and values.  We have different professional commitments and expectations.  A change has to come from within to make it stick.  So using CLQ to explore a client’s problem, and using their creativity to find solutions which work for them, is the best way to work for me.  CLQ help me to leave my prejudices and suppositions behind and be present and available for the client. 

Working with metaphor also enables quite tricky situations or experiences to be explored without revisiting the original trauma and without submerging the client in unhelpful emotions and drama. It’s efficient and gentle at the same time.

Systemic Modelling is a way of using Clean in groups.  Whether it be a team at work, a class at school, a family or a group of Directors, the Systemic Modelling ‘format’ creates a safe space for a group to explore what’s working, what’s not working.  To take responsibility for their reactions and support each other in discovering their patterns of behaviour and to come up with their own objectives. 

A Facilitator in Systemic Modelling has a high level of skill in managing their own state, in giving good quality feedback, remaining curious, and trusting that the group has enough wisdom to find their own solutions.  It’s even better when there are two Facilitators who can support each other and keep any emerging egos in check.  It is hard sometimes not to become the Expert …

In this day and age when we’re all bombarded with so much information, it’s easy to slip into the trap of thinking we know everything.  Clean Language keeps me humble and curious.  It reminds me that at the end of the day, we’re all just human beings with all our ‘curves and edges’, our childhood baggage and adolescent hang-ups,  some of us bumbling through life, others charging ahead and we’re all trying our best to live our best lives… however that may be.  And if I can help bring clarity to some of that muddle, then it can only be a good thing!

You can find out more about Sarah Scarratt on her Unlimited Potential profile.



Download our FREE BROCHURE

We are Gcologists

Find out more
GC Index.
 Caitlin has made a real difference to my confidence and to the way I approach my business on a day to day basis.
John Baker, Regional Director, The Jockey Club
 It (coaching) unearthed a depth of confidence that I was beginning to question and enabled me to make a significant change within myself and my work.
Luke Joy-Smith, Managing Director - Somerset Social Enterprise
 I connected with my coach on our very first call and I believe that made the whole difference for me. I wish I could dig deeper on some of my remaining issues but unfortunately all good things have to end. I will definitely recommend coaching and have been already doing it for while. It definitely changed my life.
Stephanie Malka, Director NOC Service Engineering – EMEA
 Great to see that there has been a positive outcome from this.
Simon Gosney, Head of Learning and Development
 Tim has provided some high quality coaching support to me through a time of transition both in terms of job, career and organisational changes. He is a skilled and experienced executive coach who facilitated just the right mix of reflection, future visioning, challenge, compassion and stretch. I’d strongly recommend working with him if you are going through a career or organisation transition. Fun to work with, I always left my sessions with him feeling significantly clearer and more content with my overall direction of travel and next steps.
Neil Savage, Director of Organisational Development 2gether NHS Foundation Trust
 “I selected my coach on the basis that she had a completely different approach to my structured way of thinking. Katherine challenged me and took me way out of my comfort zone – scary and uncomfortable at times but eye-opening. These coaching sessions enabled me to see things from a very different perspective, gave me the time and space to reflect on my practice and provided practical tips and approaches as to how I can develop my performance.”
Zenobia Daar, Head of People, Governance & Performance
 Please continue with the programme. For a guy, like Paul, who does not use the word 'fantastic', who then uses must be really good!
Marissa Bartlett, Head of Organisational Development - Mid Sussex District Council
 Everyone learnt a lot about themselves and others. It was the first training in English that one of my mentors had done and it was really successful for him. We have all come away feeling more confident. I have been on many development programmes and I have to say it has been one of the best I have ever attended.
Radka Lankasova, HR Manager, DENSO MANUFACTURING CZECH s. r. o.
 Steve Delivered a professional, relaxed and engaging session. Relevance, interest and clarity of delivering allowed for a very productive outcome.
Andy Castle, VP of Network Operations and Engineering, EMEA
 I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with Steve. He encouraged me to look at how I view myself and my actions, to actively seek positive outcomes to every day situations. My perception of myself has certainly changed due to my conversations with Steve and I would highly recommend coaching sessions with Unlimited Potential.
Rik Roberts, Team Leader