At our last summer hurrah at the beach, our family was playing horseshoes, and it got me thinking. In horseshoes, close just may be good enough. But, as a coach, counselor or therapist, when you use Clean Language and asking questions about your clients’ statements, you have to use their exact words.
Why isn’t close-but-not-exact good enough?
Try this. Take a piece of paper, and list the numbers 1-10. Consider the word ‘green.’ Write down the first ten things that come to mind related to ‘green.’ Then, without sharing your answers, ask a few other people to do the same. Now, compare lists.
Chances are you may have several words that are the same and then a few more that are only on your list but it’s logical to everyone why they made your list. And then perhaps there are one or two words that leave your friends scratching their heads: why would that have anything to do with ‘green? Maybe the word ‘grandmother’ because green was your grandmother’s favorite color, or ‘icing’ because someone once made you a funny birthday cake with green icing. The association is unique to you.
And that’s why close is not good enough when you’re repeating your clients’ words. Because every word, consciously or subconsciously, has its own resonance and associations for the speaker. Change it, and you lose the information that word ‘contains’….and you suggest to your client you didn’t really hear him/her.
Share your story here on the blog of a unique association you have with a word or respond to someone else’s word-story with your association.
And the next time someone uses the word “green”, you might want to use a Clean Language question, and ask, “Is there anything else about green?”