Meet Rachel Gilmore! Rachel is a ILM (Level 7) certified coach, a Myers Briggs Practitioner and has a MSc in HR Development. With Neil Pavey, she runs Brighton-based Being Clean. which hosts a monthly practice group and Clean Language training events.
Rachel, what brought you to Clean Language?
When looking for the next step in my development, over 8 years ago and before children, my coach recommended Clean Language and thought I might find it interesting. I got a book by Judy Rees and Wendy Sullivan and when I tried it out and got good results with my clients I became curious and wanted to explore more. I got a group of coaches of coaches together to practise and realised metaphors really worked. I signed up for Clean Learning’s newsletter... I wanted to find out more but having small children meant my development went on the back burner so it wasn’t until 5 years later that I booked on Clean for Teams and since then I have been attending the Systemic Modelling training in both Hampshire and West Kirby.
I was blown away by the Systemic Modelling approach. As I am a coach and facilitator myself, I can be quite picky, and I notice things and details that other coaches and trainers do right and wrong. When I saw Marian facilitate for the first time, I could not pick any faults in what she was doing.
At first, I thought Marian was this amazing facilitator, and then I realised it wasn’t just Marian (although I do still think she is an amazing and lovely person!!) – it is the process that is so amazing. I noticed Marian was not putting any of her ‘stuff’ into it and because it was so ‘clean’ I could not pick fault in what she was doing. It was too clean!
I also attended the Symbolic Modelling training. I had been working as a non-directive coach, and when I attended this course I realised that my approach had not been as non-directive as I’d thought. I loved the quality of learning and the detailed feedback from people. The learning environment meant there was no room for egos in the room.
The course helped me to develop my practice in a way that was even more beneficial for my clients. I got some great results. Clients were able to solve problems quicker and more easily, with no need to go into their background. One client talked about gardening dahlias to describe how she wanted to tend and look after her team. Another used the metaphor of a wardrobe to understand all the different departments she was now responsible for and she ended up rearranging a seating plan to match the compartments and layout of her wardrobe.
I could no longer coach in the old way; I had to do it in this new way. My old way of doing things was not so useful any more.
Following my first Systemic Modelling workshop I started a practice group in Brighton, and soon realised there are lots of people in Brighton who really like this stuff. People in Brighton are very open-minded and Clean Language lends itself to that community.
What’s happening now?
The practice group is called Being Clean and runs on the third Tuesday of each month. We often get 10 people or so attending, and it's growing. Some of those who attend have had no clean training at all and others have been trained by Clean Learning. A few of the group are soon to attend Clean for Teams, which is great.
During one workshop I met Neil Pavey. He was moving to Brighton and we seemed to hit it off with our approach to practising and using clean.
Neil and I now run the practice group together as well as other training events. He compliments my energy well. Working in a pair reduces any anxiety we have and means we have someone to check in with as we go along. Our working relationship is enhanced by our differences, in the way we think, what we notice, our energy and how we present ourselves.
How do you work with your clients?
Most of my client work is in London. I work with a wide range of clients, mostly in the creative sector such as Comic Relief, BBC, Hurst Magazines and Architects. My clients don’t always know that I am doing Clean Language, but I am. They are buying a team day or 1-1 coaching to help a person get a promotion – and the methodology I work with is clean.
Clients then start to notice a difference in how I do things and start to get curious and ask about the approach. One client did actually say to me ‘the syntax of these questions is a bit weird’. I explained there was a huge amount of research round the questions and it is called Clean Language, and encouraged them to give it a go. And they did.
When working with teams I love to start the workshop or event with the Five Senses exercise, (explained in Caitlin’s book, From Contempt to Curiosity). It helps teams become curious about each other and if they notice the questions and ask about them, I then tell them more.
One example of how clean methodology has helped is a piece of work with a group of architects…
The group were not functioning too well. They were not connecting or communicating and there was little understanding between them. When we went into the office we could hear a pin drop.
We did a scoping exercise, working with the Clean Feedback model around what was working well, not working so well what would they like to be different. Then at the first event when we bought the group together, we facilitated them in Five Senses and sharing their metaphors for working at their best. They were very quiet and found sharing metaphors difficult.
At the second event, we worked with the architects to explore a large group metaphor, building on the previous event. The group came up with a metaphor of a market place, where they would all have their own stalls. They would shout out their wears to one other and the market place would be a place where they could see each other and see what each other was selling and doing. There’d be a plinth in the middle for the public to come in to see what they were doing.
The group got excited about the metaphor and when I returned 3 months later they had joined an open house scheme and had the public in. They had also had people come into the studio, had a Christmas party and a 5-year party. By now everyone was talking about their work more to each other and I thought to myself that they really did have that ‘market place’ happening.
And what is happening in the future?
When I first started my journey into coaching 10 years or so ago, coaching was a concept that some people found it hard to grasp. Now it is much more commonplace and most people have had an experience of coaching or know someone who has. I think Clean Language is at a similar place… It can be a hard concept to grasp and you sort of need an experience of it to understand it. I think Clean Language is going to be a bit like that and going to be the next big thing and, I want to be part of that. It’s exciting and progressive and very effective.
It’s nice to know that we are developing and building the skills in our community for people to live richer lives and to have better relationships with their family and colleagues.
We have tried to get it into our local school. They like the idea and concept of it, yet when we try to make it happen the school are under so much pressure it does not feature in their priorities. It is a shame as I think it would be brilliant to have clean schools.
It seems to me that there is a bit of disconnect between people learning it, loving it and applying it and then taking it further. I am not sure yet what the disconnect is; maybe it’s just time and there will be a tipping point somewhere along the line.
In 2019 we will run more Clean Language training in Brighton. After Clean for Teams this month, Neil and I are hoping to run a 1-Day Introduction to Clean Language and another Clean for Teams in the autumn.
And my own development continues, I am attending another Systemic Modelling module in March with Caitlin. Each time I attend one of these modules I learn more and see new applications. It seems that learning and developing with Clean Language is infinite and I find that fascinating.