Clean Language Un-conference: Metaphorum 2021

Clean Language Un-conference: Metaphorum 2021

Thank you for being here and your interest in the upcoming Metaphorum 2021.

Metaphorum is an unconference created by Judy Rees as a way of supporting the blossoming Clean Community and providing a shared space for any and all of us to discuss, learn, connect, and share about everything Clean and, more particularly, how you are using and learning about Clean methodologies in your work and daily life.

I wanted to say hello and share with you my hopes for Metaphorum 2021 happening on the 3rd of December.

It is my pleasure to be the new steward of Metaphorum. I chose the term steward rather than owner as this is a community-supported event and, although I might be managing the organizational bits, it is your participation, your sessions, and your generosity of spirit that kindle the creative nature of this event.

In the Spirit of Clean

In the spirit of a clean stance and (mostly) emergent event, Metaphorum 2021, I would like to introduce some underlying principles and ideas I think have bolstered Metaphorum over the years.

We encourage positive behaviors that promote social acceptance and friendship. We support others, including new participants, in bringing their ideas and expertise to light.


We want your ideas, your experience, your learnings. This is what makes us stronger as a community and reaches across the globe to keep us connected.

Bring what you know, what you are curious about, any questions you have, any learnings you have implemented, and/or experience(s) you have put into practice. Metaphorum is a place where you have the opportunity to share and shine.


Bring an eagerness to discover and learn something. Ask yourself: what can I notice, learn, share, contribute?


Enjoyment & Learning
We want you to enjoy your time and learn something new. You are welcome to move around and between sessions creating a fluid space for learning. Roam until you find just what serves you at that moment in time.


Quality Over Quantity:
Many sessions will be running in parallel. It is not about how many people come to your session, but rather who they are and the curiosity they share with you on your topic. One or two quality connections is incredibly valuable. Think small.

Whether it’s a discussion about working cleanly in healthcare, using clean questions with adolescents, developing clean coaching skills, learning about clean language and its use in sports, clean and gaming, or how clean language can boost your barista skills…there is always at least one other person that will find your topic curious if not downright geek-a-licious.

And a Couple of Ideas

Working Emergently:
Within the constraints of the medium (ie Zoom), this event is a blending of some structure and the opportunity for emergent sessions as inspiration strikes.


Starts Rather Than Finishes:
If you find an idea or learning compelling, reach out to others and continue your connection well past this one-day virtual event.

If you meet someone and you are having a great conversation, feel free to take that conversation to your own zoom portal or other online service. You can come back to Metaphorum when you are done.

Metaphorum for the future

I have participated in Metaphorum in some shape or form over the last five years and have seen it change and grow and develop in that time.

I would like to see Metaphorum continue to be a place where you can bring your creativity, your experience, your experimentations in the Clean domain and share with others through sessions, discussions, slide shows, video presentations, or however you feel lead within the technical capacity we have.

It is the community

Although there will be well-known individuals providing sessions (people like Penny Tompkins & James Lawley, Marian Way, Angela Dunbar, and Judy Rees to name just a few) the main purpose of Metaphorum is to provide multiple opportunities for those of you who might not normally have a place to share or discuss your expertise to do just that.

If you have already purchased your ticket for Metaphorum 2021, THANK YOU! It will be good to see you there and I look forward to your participation in the development of this year’s event.

Join us?

If you have not already opted in to spend the day with us, we would love to have you join us for Metaphorum 2021 this coming December 3rd. There are still about 40 places left with early bird tickets available until the 15th of October. If you are curious about this unconference you can find out more and/or register using the button below.

I feel very strongly about cultivating diversity along with solid Clean Language skills and your contributions can help develop both.

Register here: https://buytickets.at/cleanlanguageinstitute/584740

Please let me know if you have any questions. You can subscribe to future emails about Metaphorum and other clean stuff that happens throughout the year, here.

It was all over an Oreo

It was all over an Oreo

I remember the look on my daughters face. 

She had just come to me “Mom, if you twist the cookies just like this, she carefully twisted the two flat cookies that sandwiched the frosting in-between in opposite directions, you can eat the middle!” 

That’s when I did it.

Instead of delighting in her discovery and asking her a question “What else can you do with an Oreo sweetie?”, all 30 years of Oreo eating experience culminated in an enthusiastic burst and telling her all the ways she could crunch, munch, dip, crumble, peel, lick, and eat an Oreo.

Thats when the face I remember happened. I had taken all the joy of discovery from her Oreo adventure.

I know, it was only a cookie. But it was her cookie, her growing up discovery, her adventure and what I had done was, in essence, appropriated her adventure and overlapped it with my own experiences. I stole it from her.

She never shared a new way of eating an oreo again.

The thing is this kind of behavior in any domain takes something from those we are talking to.

New ideas, a creative adventures, problem solving, as soon as we give unsolicited advice or stories about how we did it, what we might do, our previous experience we rob others of something essential that comes with personal discovery.

Its more than “Don’t give me advice honey, just listen”. Hear that as “I am going to tell you something and even if it’s in your domain of experience, or it’s painful, or frustrating … I want to retain ownership of it.”

This skill of letting others own and keep their experiences, their joy of solving, and adventure of discovery is something Clean Language has given me.

It sounds small … but please don’t underestimate the power of asking rather than telling.

Would you like to know more?

Check out this post from 2015, Ask, Don’t Tell ,for a more comprehensive look at using Clean Questions affirmatively.

Hipsters Got It Going On!

Hipsters Got It Going On!

It’s like a revival.

Read or listen – as you please.

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and what seems to be major move towards doing everything online and, ya know…I’m not sure about the on-line-ness of the future.

When I was a kid reading sci-fi and as I grew older reading technological projections…what we’ve got now, is not what was promised or projected.

I think Hipsters and maker-culture are on the edge of something more than just fair-trade eco-commerce.

They are a segment of young people striving to have an experience of the world around them. Not a virtual experience, but one infused with quality over quantity and relationship over volume.

This is where you see dot com millionaires opening micro-breweries where they are the brew master, creating something amazing with their own hands.

Where MBA’s are ‘retiring out’ and opening leather shops where items are hand crafted by artisans sewing in the back area of a retail outlet in full view. A place where customers can watch bags and belts being made.

This culture is not new

…and the up-serge is mostly happening in the US where mom and pop stores have been edged out by big box shopping culture starting in the 1970s. Here we are 50 years later. Going back in time to something that simply feels better.

This is also a future (past) that I think is more in line with our neuro-biological needs as human beings.

Think hug and the spectrum from a virtual hug, to a light tripod hug, and a genuine, full armed, ready to get to know you like you belong hug.

Embodied heads aside, and keyboard life as its own thing, there is a confusion and lostness that is leading to critical mass. Insuring that we have our online persona all tooled up is not the full answer.

I struggle with online training for many reasons. Not because it is not valuable or do-able in a nice ways with technological resources at our finger tips – but that it can only go so far.

And I know there is an incongruence between my message and that it is being sent via email…then again, this is not a training.

Learning online

… is a great way to gain more knowledge, to study for conceptual learning, and to meet others with similar interests from around the world. I have even read that when studying for a test learning online has an advantage for helping one retain intellectual information.

Learning face-to-face, hand-to-hand creates relationships forged in common experience, learning deep skills developed in real time with living variables (that would be people), and conversations that only happen during meals and downtime.

You know, the musings and questions we often have after reading something, trying a new way of doing things, putting our new skills to work.

Maker culture is not about fast food, fast friends, or fast results. It is about slow food, deeper social connections, and results that last.

Clean Language is a maker-culture.

It is an art.

Art happens with skill, skill happens through experience, and experience happens through exposure.

Learning a certain level of competency in Clean Language can happen in virtual learning environment.  And those you find teaching Clean Language at a high skill levels have had high quality, in-person, face-to-face, live, hands-on training at some point in their learning career.

Clean Language is a hands-on, skills based way of working with others.

Humans are complex and there are subtleties in learning that are simply better captured when you are face-to-face, when you can see even small gestures that might be out of screen vision online, watch and respond to eye focal points, notice skin tone changes, vocal changes clearly, and when learning get real time feedback by a skilled trainer.

So bottom line …

Q: Can you learn Clean Language online?
A: Yes.

Q: Will it be more difficult to become very good?
A: Yes

Q: Will you need to be more self-motived to practice, show up on keyboard to chat groups & virtual practice rooms, learn more on your own, and sustain your own momentum?
A: Yes

Q: Will you get the real time feedback you need to improve in subtle and meaningful ways?
A: Maybe

Q: Will it be comprehensive with gesture, line of site, and subtlety of movement?
A: It is limited in this scope.

Q: Will it be good enough to add to your current practice or skill set?
A: It depends (on many variables)


Wanna get close and do a little hands-on learning?

We would love to have you join us at one of our live events.

Clean Coaching is Green Coaching

Clean Coaching is Green Coaching

I was in a small health food co-op the other day and on my way out I saw a local green directory titled Solstice.

I looked at the book, paused, walked out the door, then turned around walking back in and grabbing a copy for myself.

What happened as I walked out the door was an unrecognized thought came as a full-fledged association between sustainable, green living and the principles of the work I do.

What came to me was Clean Coaching is Green Coaching, ecologically sound for the heart and mind.

It seems to me that Clean Language and Symbolic Modeling have all the markers of an organic, sustainable, bio-diverse way of working with others.

All the reasons we may have for adding more organic, diverse foods to our diet and reducing our intake of additives and preservatives could be the same reasoning we use in choosing the form of therapy/coaching for OUR sustainable future.

Why take such care for your body if you are going to let others influence your mind through methods that have been robbed of their essence in a drive for conformity?

That’s like choosing those beautifully shaped, perfect looking, nutritionally cardboard vegetables you can get in most supermarkets over the strange and wonderful sustenance that comes from organic farms.  Sometimes the vegetables are a bit weirdly shaped (we all have a bit of weird in us) but they are packed with micro-nutrients.

Green is an overarching term used in relation to the ideas of organic and ecological sustainability.

Green living is about how to reduce our impact on the planet, support natural systems, create a lifestyle that works with nature and does no long-term damage to the planet.

It’s meant to reduce our carbon footprint and encourage spending our money in ways that cast our vote for products that have a “green” quality.

Being Green contributes towards maintaining the ecological balance of our environment and preserving the planet with its natural systems and resources.

Green living is free of synthetic additives, preservatives, and unnatural influences.  And is seen as good for self, good for other, and good for the planet.

Clean is an overarching term that we use to describe a philosophy in coaching and therapy that is designed to preserve and utilize the natural ecology of a person’s nature.

No additives, pesticides, or growth enhancers needed for good people to grow into who they want to be.  Others do not need our inferences, suggestions, or strategies to grow.

As Clean facilitators we do not add our input into the client’s ecological system.

Organic and bio-diverse, we help create an environment for change by utilizing exactly what the client provides us.

Our intention is to utilize what naturally occurs in a client’s system, do no harm, and promote connection to the naturally occurring resources of the client.

This creates change that belongs to the person, not the coach or facilitator.

It is designed and developed by the client, for the client, and, in so being, is sustainable.

Mother nature knows best…and so do our clients.

Would you like to learn more about how Clean Language might be useful to you and your practice?

Join one of our webinars on a Tuesday of your choice. You can sign up HERE

Hope to meet you soon.

The Wisdom of a Small Cup

The Wisdom of a Small Cup

I like coffee

I drink two American size mugs of coffee every morning between 7 and 9 am. That’s 12 ounces each! (350 ml). My cup is an elegant white bone china cup with a light curve that fits my hand perfectly, lovely on a cool morning.

But, I’m a sipper and my coffee gets cold as it sits on my desk.

I remember years ago when I was training in Japan. I went to a coffee shop, ordered a cuppa and was stunned to silence by the extremely small, delicate cup of coffee I was served. It must have only been 4, maybe 5 ounces at the most.

Hot fresh coffee, uhmm!

I hadn’t ordered an espresso, cappuccino, or other ‘small’ drink. And at first I was thinking .. Really? Is this all I get? It was a shock coming from an American coffee culture where a small cup comes as a ‘mug’ or in a large paper cup.

But what I found was this small, delicate, 5 oz coffee was one of the best cup of coffee I’d ever had. It was an awakening and I learned something important.

First, the Japanese roast a mean cup of coffee.

And second, when you drink your coffee from a small cup, the coffee stays hot from top to bottom and it tastes better.

No microwave needed, no throwing out cold coffee, and no tall cup to tip over on your lap top or desk when you talk with your hands .. Or your coffee table when your dog walks by and wags its tail.

I began to wonder, how is interviewing like drinking coffee from a small cup?

Here are two ways I’ve discovered:

  1. On a relational level, you want rapport and trust of your interviewee.Essentially you want to keep the interview warm from start to finish. 
  2. At the questioning level, you want to be sure the interviewee can answer your questions easily and without confusion. You might say the interview stays warm from ask to answer.   

If you go in with a big mug full of pre-formulated questions, pick lists, complex multi-segmented questions, or accidentally asking a question that takes your interviewee off-tangent, the interview can turn cold.

Without the two things above, an established sense of trust and easy to answer questions, an interview can easily become an intervention or even an interrogation.

There is no microwave to warm up a cold interview once it has been derailed. You’ve just got to let the work of friction … or reduction of friction do its work.

Here are a few other things Clean Language Questions in an interview process can help with…

Decrease & Reduce

  • leading or content heavy questions
  • dual or multi-content questions
  • conflation of terms
  • confirmation bias
  • addition of content (that would be yours)

Increase & Develop

  • questions that can be answered easily
  • rapport & trust of the interviewee
  • sequence or time lines
  • data accuracy / authenticity
  • better recall by your client (and you)

I would like to offer you a space at my Clean Language Interviewing workshop in January 2019 where I will be joined by one of the worlds primary experts on using Clean principles and questions in an interviewing frame.

~ You will learn to serve your questions in a small cup
~ You will have a resource for keeping rapport warm from beginning to end – even with   the most difficult interviewees
~ You will have a functional way of repairing communication or mis-understandings
~ You will have principles to draw on that underlay what information you choose to ask about and how to formulate your questions
~ You will have a more flexible and useful notion of questions that out serves the over used and simplistic notion of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ questions

You will have a way of working with duel outcomes – when two or more people within the interview process have different or conflicting outcomes in:

  • Coaching
  • Sales
  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Hiring
  • Qualitative interviewing
  • Cause evaluation and
  • Auditing

Are you curious?

Head over to our trainings tab or join one of our complimentary webinars under the work with Sharon tab. There you’ll find a link to sign up on a Tuesday of your choice.

Alright, until next time
be well
think well
question well