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A Question of Scale

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Practice Group Report

The topic for this month’s group was ‘scaling’.

A number of coaching processes include ‘scaling questions’ such as ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that you will achieve x?’ The coach then works with the client to find out what needs to happen for the number on the scale to go up. As Clean Language is a neutral tool, it can easily be combined with questions such as this - and of course, if we ask this question, we are introducing the whole concept of scale into the conversation. So our focus for the evening was how can we work with scale cleanly?

We worked in threes, with more experienced members facilitating each other, while beginners observed. In some groups, the facilitator directed the client’s attention to any ‘scale’ words and these were developed. In other groups, observers simply noted down examples of words which implied a scale, even if they were not developed. Most of us were surprised at how many words people tend to use which imply some kind of scale, for example: best (I want to help in the best way I can); very (very serenely); most (most days); feel good, feel horrible; appropriate; lessening of tension; insurmountable, manageable; fairly big; big picture.

Some people were concerned that paying attention to scale did not feel clean… and it’s important to note that this was indeed a facilitator outcome, training our attention, so we can be more aware of ‘scale’ in future client sessions. We were not suggesting that it is clean to pick up on every ‘scaling’ word in every client session, but that it may sometimes be useful (depending on the client’s desired outcome) to help clients to become aware of the way they unconsciously use scale to organise their perceptions. For more about this, read Penny Tompkins and James Lawley’s article: Big Fish in a Small Pond: The Importance of Scale.

Recalling an earlier Practice Group topic about how to remember the Clean Language questions, Dave brought everyone a copy of “The Handy Model”, developed by Judy Barber, which allows you to use the fingers and palms of each hand to remember the Clean Language questions. This was well-received by everyone - so thanks Dave, and thanks Judy.

In the final part of the meeting, beginners joined in as clients or facilitators, so everyone went home having had some experience of Clean Language.

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash


About Marian Way

Marian Way's avatar

A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be… #DramaFree.

Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She’s trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.


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