1. Home
  2. Blog

What impact has Clean Language had on you / your life?


At the end of this month, I am running a workshop at my Toastmasters group about planning to make an impact. I have lots of ideas about the kinds of things you can do to create an impactful speech, but my initial planning involves doing some research into the kinds of speeches that have already had an impact. I’m asking anyone who can spare a few minutes to tell me (a) the speech (b) what was it about the speech that had an impact (c) what kind of impact it had and (d) what are they doing / thinking differently in their lives now as a result of having heard that speech.

Of course I have also been thinking about how I would answer these questions, and when I think about what I am doing now – Clean Language coaching and training – I am transported back to a presentation given by James Lawley in 1999 at the NLP Conference in Regent’s College, London. The topic was ‘Binds and Double Binds’ and you can read James’s article on it here.

Until that day, I’d never heard the terms ‘bind’ or ‘double bind’ but I soon recognised that the patterns James was talking about matched my thinking style to a ‘T’. So when James ask for someone to demonstrate the process with, I volunteered and was soon sitting on a tall stool in front of the group. James started asking me clean questions, and I can honestly say my life has never been the same since. I was entranced by my own metaphor landscape – and I was right in thinking that I am a master of ‘bind’ type thinking: my binds were so ‘tight’ that it took this and another three sessions to unravel them sufficiently for me to move on in my life.

James’s presentation had a massive impact on me and, looking back, I would say that it was because the subject of binds resonated with me, and because I got the chance to experience Clean Language as a client right there and then. I felt like this was the first time that someone actually understood my kind of thinking, the problems that could ensue, and help me find a way out.

I’ve no idea whether James’s session had an impact on anyone else that day, and as I think about this example of my own, I am realising that we can never know the full extent of the impact we are having as we go about our daily work, whether that is as a speaker, a coach, or a postman or a printer. And while we can plan to make an impact with a speech or workshop or seminar, we cannot be sure what that impact will be. Only time will tell.

When it comes to a Clean Language session itself, we can’t even plan to make an impact - at least not in the way we can plan and rehearse a speech. All we can do is practice and hone our skills, be in a good state, then trust the process. Sometimes, it seems as though a radical change happens for a client right there in the room – but, as with a speech, only time will tell the extent of that change.

After Henk Kloor and his partner Edith attended our Discover Your Assertive Self workshop, he wrote to tell me what happened next:

Edith and I have been together for more than 7 years now. And we know that the best way to live together is to be yourself. But as simple as it sounds … In reality it is more complex than that. We both did several trainings and courses until we realised: What good is a roadmap if you don’t know where you are?

So we went out searching for an answer for our need and found it with Marian Way and Penny Tompkins and Discover Your Assertive Self..

It might seem a bit odd to travel from the Netherlands ‘just’ for this journey of discovery. But for us it was great. We could work out our own questions and discuss our learning as well. It gave us insight about ourselves but also about how we do the things together at home. And we have put what we learned into use often in the year since then. Edith spoke up at work and got a better position with a lot more challenge. I find myself working on goals I’d had for a long time and saying no to distractions that are nice but bring me nothing but distraction.

It gave us insight about “You are here”: the red dot on the map. And it made us genuinely assertive in relation to ourselves and each other. It really enriched us.

It would be great to have more stories like this telling of the impact Clean Language – weeks, months or even years later. So here is a set of ‘impact’ questions that relate to Clean Language. If you are aware of an impact / change that has happened for you as a result of a Clean Language session, or a training or a workshop, have a think about your answers to these questions:

1. What was the ‘Clean’ occasion? (session, training, workshop etc… describe briefly)
2. What was it about it that meant it had an impact?
3. What kind of impact did it have?
4. What are you doing/thinking differently now as a result?

Get in touch if you’d like to share your story - or if you’d like to know more about the workshops we offer.

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

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.

Blog categories
Adventures in Clean
Book Reviews
Clean Ambassadors
Clean Interviewing
Clean Language
Clean Space
Clean with Groups
Case Studies
David Grove
Life Purpose
Meet the Team
Practice Group
Symbolic Modelling
Systemic Modelling