Daily Danai

Art & Design Education

How We Can Learn to Listen

The value of listening is undeniable in education, leadership and communication. But what makes active listening so challenging? Bohm (2004) suggests that it’s our tendency to continuously repeat our own thoughts and filter out any information that doesn’t align with them. This is a defensive reflex, steering us toward confirmation during conversations rather than open dialogue.


During my professional development, I’ve explored different ideas and methods on effective communication and listening. Voss (2018)advises on the art of negotiation in “Never Split the Difference.” Grenny (2020) discusses the importance of engaging in “Crucial Conversations”. And, Rosenberg (2015) introduced the concept of non-violent communication, focusing on the clarity of needs between both parties.


Last Friday I was introduced to another principle: Clean Language (CL). Developed by David Grove in New Zealand, CL originally found its roots in therapy. However the CL-method is applicable in a wide range of topics such as coaching, intervision, reporting, journalism, education, and business. The essence lies in its question framework, designed to minimize the facilitator’s own biases and assumptions. The questions encourage deeper exploration, steering away from contaminating the subject’s thoughts. Example questions for facilitators include:


  • “And what kind of … is that?”
  • “Is there anything else about …?”
  • “What would you like to have happen?”


My introduction took place during a day of open space sessions at a CL conference in Helvoirt led by Michael Oskam. It was a great opportunity to be able to experience CL via a small conversation with Penny Thomkins. In addition, Michael provided an overview of CL origins, main principles and its various applications. Next I observed it’s application within a therapy session with James Lawly and lastly I investigated CL in the context of colors with Nick Pole. Based on my experiences at the conference I look forward to expand my understanding via recommended publications such as: “Clean in the Classroom” by Julie Maccracken and “Antifragile” by Nassim Nicolas Taleb. I consider CL as an interesting new building block in enhancing the quality of our communication and deepening mutual understanding.



Antifragile, Thaleb, N.N. (2014)

Clean Language in the Classroom, Mccracken J. (2016)

Crucial Conversations, Grenny, J. (2020)

Never Split the Difference, Voss, C. (2018)

Non Violent Communication, Rosenberg, M. (2015)

On Dialogue, Bohm, D. (2004)

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