Communication – ‘Clean’ Language

Mar 07 2016

Communication is key; you don’t have to be a coach to know that! Then why is it that ‘misunderstandings’ or ‘misinterpretations’ are still one of the biggest causes of conflict ?

Many of us hear what we ‘think’ we are going to hear and very often only listen for that which supports ‘our thinking’ – our preconceived idea of the facts or situation, rather than the other persons’ view or thoughts, their actual words.

This is where it gets tricky – because if we all speak the same language – what’s the problem? Why the misunderstandings?

Here is an approach that has completely changed my ability to listen and understand – Its called ‘Clean Language’.

I’ve learnt to question, with genuine curiosity, what somebody means when they speak. I resist assuming I know what they mean, I hold back from presupposing their meaning. I take time to listen – let them finish and then check out what’s been said.

Using ‘their exact words’ I explore their meaning………….

“So you said you were frustrated frustrated in what way?”

“You said you were disappointed with the team – what was is about the team that caused you to feel disappointed? Tell me more.”

I always understand more when I take the time to use ‘Clean Language’ – language that in no way presupposes I know the answer.

As a coach this approach is invaluable to me – and as wife, mother, and colleague it’s equally valuable in all the conversations I have every day.

I am often amazed at what I get in response to my questions – not what I was expecting and certainly not my view or interpretation.

So the next time you are dissatisfied with a conversation with a member of your team or colleague, take some time to think through what was said and what you actually understood. Did you really ‘get it’ or did you ‘hear’ what ‘you thought they said’.

If you would like to explore this approach more, then please contact me.


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