Practice Group Report
At our practice group meeting on Monday we focussed on the syntax of Clean Language and in particular, the use of 'as' and 'when'.
There are three parts to a Clean Language question. First of all, we acknowledge what the other person has said by repeating some, or all, of their words, prefaced by the word 'and'. Secondly, we pick out a word, phrase or gesture to direct their attention to and do so by saying, "And when... [client's word(s)]" or "And as... [client's word(s)]". Finally we ask a clean question.
So what determines when to use 'as' and when to use 'when'? Could we formulate some rules or guidelines about when to use each one? That was the question we set ourselves, and in order to explore this question, we split into groups and worked with each other, asking questions and experimenting with 'as' and 'when' to see which worked best for the client in which context. As we're much more practised in using 'when', most of our attention was on 'as'. Here's what we came up with...
When is useful:
- for 'stopping time' and having the client focus on a particular moment in time
- to encourage the client to narrow their focus (although of course it depends what question you ask it with)
As is useful:
- for acknowledging, and having the client recognise, the ongoing nature of their experience
- to encourage the client to open up their focus (with the same caveat as above)
- when the client is using verbs ending in '-ing'
- with questions such as Then what happens? or As ... what happens to ... ?
- with metaphors that suggest an 'ongoingness' such as 'flow' or 'stretch'
I found that I needed questions with 'as' to be more conversational than with 'when'. If I say "I need to get a box down from the loft" I am comfortable if the facilitator says, "And when box from loft..." but somehow, "And as box from loft..." didn't work for me. I wanted my facilitator to say, "And as you get a box down from the loft..." And of course, this may be just because I am more used to 'when' than 'as'.
It was great to see so many of you, and I hope enjoyed the evening. Please use the comments box below to say more about your own experience with 'as' and 'when'.O
Our next meeting is on November 21st and it'll be an 'open frame' meeting where your topic suggestions are welcome, and we'll 'go with the flow'. Nigel has already put a couple of ideas forward: (1) experimenting with the use of 'so' instead of 'and' - how much difference does it make? (2) How little can the facilitator do and still be effective? Have a think about these and about what you would like to have happen and come prepared for another fun learning evening.