Exploring Questions that Drive Change

REPLAY BELOW – Live Conversation with

Alan Whitton (Fighters Mind) and James Tripp

(Want to become more personally influential? Want to help others empower themselves? Neuro-Linguistic Influencer!)


Replay of Webinar and notes to accompany video below!



Hi All

If you missed the live call (21st August 2012),  the replay and download are available below! You will also find, at the end of this post some additional notes that support the ‘Essence of Change Question Set’ (discussed in the video above), which I’ve included to help you get the most out of it (it is a deceptively simple but highly impactful  little tool!). The note take a slightly different frame than the video, but it is essentially the same process.

I Hope you enjoy and play with the questions – if you are into changework, you should get a lot out of this!



Hello Hypnoheads!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to catch up with my good friend Alan Whitton and chat about our favourite subject – changework and personal coaching. It was a great conversation, largely focusing on the power of questions to drive change… we ended up kicking backwards and forwards our favourite ‘change-driving questions‘ we use with clients and dissecting how and why they work.

Anyhows, subsequent to the conversation Al asked if I would put something down on audio around the subject for the people subscribed to his newsletter, and I counter suggested that we put it out as a live broadcast teleseminar. So here it is.

It’s a bit short notice, I know, but we just wanted to get it out there whilst the topic is still fresh!

But why ‘dirty’ questions?

Knowing what a fan I am of Clean Language, Al suggested that we steer into different territory and ‘go dirty’. Fine by me (and the truth is, ‘Clean’ isn’t all that ‘clean’ anyway).

So, this is going to be a fantastic exploration and dissection of questions that drive change… And although we have said 3, the truth is that we really have little intent of limiting ourselves in any way.

And I hope you can join us on the call!

All the very best


REPLAY – 3 Dirty Questions that Drive Change

[S3AUDIO file=’3DirtyQuestions.mp3′]

[S3FILE file=’3DirtyQuestions.mp3′]



What follows is a brief ‘protocol’ for eliciting and orientating from clients not only to ‘difference’ but also the difference that difference makes! Although there is no ‘induction’ or even closed eyes (though there may be) it really is pure hypnosis in action.

For me, hypnosis is:

The use of language and communication to direct attention and seed ideas, for the purpose of altering a persons perception of reality. By that formulation, what follows is pure hypnosis (…without trance! :-D)

The aim here is to elicit difference, and model out the difference that difference makes. It is an excellent process for orientating the client to start paying attention to useful feedback and difference – a life skill.

It also serves to connect the client more vividly to the new perspectives and the value within the work. This is good for both assisting change AND for ensuring credit where credit is due regarding the work (some say this doesn’t matter, but it is certainly more healthy for your business to do so!)

The ‘reference structure’ that sits behind this is:

  1. ‘What?’
  2. ‘So What?’
  3. ‘Now What?

…and it unpacks as follows:


1 – ‘What?’ represents “The difference…”

Q: What do you know know that you didn’t know before?


Q: What do you notice that is different?

The former I use if the framing has been more ‘conversational’, the latter if we have been doing more ‘formal’ process.

Feedback the ‘key elements’ to the client “and… x and y and Z”


2 – ‘So what?’ represents “…that makes the Difference.”

Q: And when you know that, what difference does knowing that make?


Q: As you notice that, what difference does that make… having that?

Again – Feedback the ‘key elements’ to the client “and… a and b and c”

You can repeat this step several times, modelling out the differences offered by the client with Clean Language .


3 – ‘Now what?’ represents the ‘Clean’ (…ish) future pace.

Q: And when you have all that (can feed in some of the clients language), and you think about taking that with you into the future, what do you notice that is different … when you think about that now?


Q: And is there a specific time or place coming up over the next few days and weeks where you’ll have an opportunity to explore with that difference, and notice what it is that you notice…“yes”

…and as you think about that now, what could be different for you in that situation.


Additional Notes

Always feedback the clients ‘resource language’ wherever possible. The aim is to elicit and ‘leverage out’ difference as cleanly as possible. The more it comes from the client, the more commited they will be to working (both consciously and unconsciously) with the new perspectives and material.

You don’t have to wait for the end of the session to do this – you can utilise it anytime difference emerges (especially steps 1 and 2)! Imagine this…You are running an NLP ‘Fast Phobia” pattern – you have dissociated the client and they are looking up at the screen, ssing the beginning frame of the ‘movie’. Instead of just proceeding, you say…

“And as you look up there and see that… just notice what you notice… the sense, the sensation… and how is that different, seeing that there like that?”

Maybe they say “I don’t know… easier”“Easier” you say; “and what kind of easier is that, when you have that… easier”

“just… calmer” They say (you can model out with the CL

You: “Just calmer… and when you notice that… just calmer… and easier… and calmer, what difference does that make… having that calmer and easier”

I invite you, as you go through these formulations, to consider how attention is being directed, and what ideas are being seeded (clue: ‘noticing’, ‘experimenting’, ‘opportunity’, ‘difference’). There is nothing accidental here – it is all strategic and designed to revive/develop the clients natural learning and change faculties. In the simplest terms it is ‘hypnotic language’ for facilitating and modelling out the change in the now, but it is also seeding an attitude and perspective that supports ongoing change

The examples given here have been kept simple so as to illustrate the basic structure and only suggest at the possibilities – if you have Clean Language and other facilitation skills you can do a lot more with this. And you’ll probably never finish up the ‘Fast Phobia’ pattern at all (and won’t need to!)

Final note: the above is a mash up of Ericksonian and Grovian (Clean) language patterning. When you learn the two separately and thoroughly, they can come together and harmonise beautifully.

I hope you enjoy playing with these ideas, and would love to get hear of your experiences in doing so!

All the very best


James Tripp

P.S. If you like this, please ‘LIKE’ this ↓↓↓↓↓


About The Author

James Tripp

Hypnotist and Transformative Facilitator. Creator of Hypnosis Without Trance.


  • gary plumridge

    August 22, 2012

    couldn’t make the webiner but would love to listen to a replay but not working when i press the replay button,can you help

  • Pat

    August 23, 2012

    Hi James,
    I appear to be having the same difficulty as Gary, replay not replaying! Just how ‘dirty’ is this language that we are not authorised to hear it ! 🙂


    • admin

      August 23, 2012

      Hi Pat

      It all seems to be working fine when I test it… please do try again (and be sure your volume is turned up ;-)( or, alternatively, you can try the download link.

      Please do et me know how it works out!


  • Mark Kandel

    August 25, 2012

    Always enjoy your thinking. 1st a smart ass observation/question from the USA…why is there so much “humming” between interviewer/interviewee in the UK (not just you), lots of “mmmmm”s- is this “active listening”? The dirty questions are great and will find their way into my work, am already using Clean Language and almost hear Judy Rees’ voice as you unpack the 3 dirty q’s.

    What I am “struggling” with is your emphasis on “How do you want to be in the world?” and looking for a significant answer from a client…especially as it relates back to your opening observations on “who is the agent of change?” But one thing at a time. I have found that some people have difficulty in offering answers to the Clean Language “ninja” q’s- how on earth can they make a leap to a much deeper, thornier q that many people (I suspect) haven’t even entertained?….isn’t it enough for the client to know “How do you NOT want to be in the world?” I propose that’s a much smaller, more accessable q. Baby steps to open the mind. People know they don’t want to suffer from “X”, they may not yet know what their path in the world can be- and perhaps they can’t, because they are – after all- suffering from the “X” they want fixed.

    And finally, as to “who is the agent of change”, is the paradigm not shifted away from the client and back to the therapist who pushes them into the quantum shift (granted overstated) of considering “How they want to be in the world?” By posing this q, aren’t we donning the mantle of agent/coach/instigator of change for someone who just wanted to stop “X” or make “Y” better? If the client is truly the agent of change, then shouldn’t we meet them on the same path they came to us? Maybe we can gently show them a better map with better paths, and -if Erikson was right that we have the all resources we need within us- the client can then find for themselves “How they want to be in the world.”
    You’ve raised wonderfully challenging ideas – and for now those ideas have raised a number of challenging q’s for me.

    Thank you for that,
    Mark K.

    • admin

      August 25, 2012

      Hi Mark

      Great questions!

      First question first – we do the ‘humming’ so you don’t have to (consider it just going that extra mile for you ;-))

      I had hoped I had already answered the second question in the webcast, but I’ll give it another go here.

      The ‘how do you want to be in the world’ question is big, and as I noted on the call, not something that is easily answered. What is more important is the intent and orientation of the question – what it is looking for. As mentioned, there is often a lot of ‘coaching out the answer’. This means you need to understand the purpose of orientating someone in that way.

      And I agree that baby-stepping up to that question is useful (would never be my opening question), but switching people on to that orientation creates a powerful driver for change.

      And sure, meet the client on the same path they have come in on, but best not stay on that path if it isn’t getting them to where they want to go. And if they only know where they don’t want to go… Sure the client could find out for themselves, but being as they are paying me as a consultant and facilitator do my very best to help them to get in touch with what they want that is truly meaningful to them. (that was what I was talking about when I quoted the PWEI lyric “I’ve got a reason, now I’ve got a reason”. Im talking here about a powerful, compelling, well-formed, value driven reason that evokes passion and action.

      Most people have these reasons inside of them somewhere, but they are buried deep under piles of ‘social programming’ all the stuff about how they ‘should’ be, rather than how they would truly LOVE to be.

      And talking of ‘shoulds’, I’m not saying we should do anything specific with clients. Finding a big ‘being’ reason is not essential, just powerful. I have found that doing changework within the context of a big reason often moves ‘stubborn’ stuff that won’t move without the context.

      So far as “all the resources we need…” that’s a whole other story. I love the sentiment, but prefer ‘people are resourceful, and fully capable of learning chage and growth’. Sometimes they need a little help building and accessing a new resource (if they didn’t, why do they still have the problem?)

      all the very best


  • Leng

    August 25, 2012

    what if the person responded “I don’t know” in all questions?

  • Hi James …
    I had a problem with the live Webinar but listened to the replay today … thanks!

    I liked the concepts presented and the idea of ‘Dirty’ questions … and more importantly the issue about client being the agent of change.

    As to questions here are a set I have been using for a while, learned from Richard Winfields Invisible Coaching programme such as:

    What would be the most useful question for me to ask you now?
    What would it be if you did know?
    How does that relate your stated outcome?
    What would be even better than that?
    What do you want instead?
    What stops you?
    & …
    What will you do?

    I also like the CL cards … which I have used recently …

  • Adam

    November 18, 2013

    Hi James,

    I’ve recently bought your CIC programme and have just finished listening to webinar 3. I’m getting so much from the concepts in the programme already. I would like to download the – 3 dirty questions webinar, however the download link doesn’t seem to work. Or is it me? ( I listen to it whilst walking to work, or working the mook jong!)



    • admin

      November 25, 2013

      Hi Adam..
      I’m getting someone onto getting that fixed, so please bear with us!

      All the very best


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