About Clean Language

What is Clean Language?

Clean Language was developed in the 1980’s by an incredibly generous New Zealand man called David Grove who gave it away on a generosity framework.

Clean Language is a deceptively simple process that can have a profound effect on your ability to learn, work and live at your best more of the time. It is an extreme listening process unlike any ordinary conversation or coaching process.

David developed questions that were void of assumption, judgement and leading as much as possible. When you combine these questions with reflecting your words back exactly, it can give you time to process and understand your own thinking.

David also recognised that if he asked questions of the metaphor in your language as though it were real you could understand complex matters easier.

James Lawley and Penny Tompkins, modelled David for a number of years and developed the process Symbolic modelling allowing others to learn how to facilitate using Clean Language. Marian Way has written a great book explaining this process called Clean Approaches for Coaches.

Caitlin Walker also worked with David and went onto to develop systemic modelling which she talks about in her book from Contempt to Curiosity. 

Quote from Caitlin’s book:

“Liverpool John Moores University introduced this process with the intention of creating a learning to learn culture. In the 5 years prior to this programme 49% of students achieved one of the top degrees (a 2:1 or above).  In the first cohort who completed the programme, 73% achieved this mark. This improved figure has now remained stable for 3 years indicating a sustainable culture change.”

The intention of not giving your opinion, approval or disapproval when asking these questions makes all the difference. If you find yourself using the questions please do remember to give credit to David Grove.

The Principles of Clean Language

  • Use the clean questions or questions that have a clean intention
  • Repeat back the individuals words, phrases, gestures and/or metaphors exactly even if it does not sound grammatically correct
  • Use a curious tone, be genuinely interested and allow time for the response to emerge
  • Hold back your opinions, suggestion, judgement
  • Believe that the person who has the problem can solve it
  • Space matters, honour and respect that others may require to be in a different space to think and process
  • Give all information equal opportunity. Information is neither good or bad or negative or positive it is simply information.

The benefits of Clean Language

  • Gain clarity, focus and direction
  • Unravel what assumptions and misconceptions that are holding you back
  • Develop resources to work, learn and live at your best more of the time

The benefits of metaphor

  • Easier to understand complex things such as emotion
  • Simplifies communications
  • Changes the focus and therefore changes the results

Our FREE guide below introduces you to the process in 8 Simple Steps, sign up today and find out more about the process that is fast becoming the most effective way to change thoughts into action.


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