Gervase R. Bushe, Ph.D., is a leadership development consultant. In his book I found an interesting approach to solve interpersonal mush, an interaction between two or more people that’s based on stories they have made up about each other and not checked out. I consider this mush as family of unsaid and troublemakers to collective intelligence.
Interpersonal mush develops when colleagues invent stories about one another to explain puzzling attitudes, actions and behaviours.
To eliminate interpersonal mush, he proposes to engage in “learning conversations” with others. Four clear leadership skills will help you engage in fruitful learning conversations:
“Aware Self” – This skill requires careful self-reflection. Examine the four elements of experience: what you observe, think, want and feel.
“Descriptive Self” – A fully developed Descriptive Self enables you to sense when people “might need to make up a story about you,” so you can sidestep interpersonal mush by clarifying your behavior.
“Curious Self” – This skill centers on understanding the experiences of others and even helping them understand themselves.
“Appreciative Self” – This mental mode involves creating robust partnerships by focusing on others’ strengths and merits.
Learning conversations will thrive only if leaders promote a “culture of clarity.” That means all team members share what they are observing, thinking, wanting and feeling. Without open discussions about individual perceptions, people will invent stories and treat them as the truth. Clear Leadership leads to authentic feedback.
Learning conversations enable colleagues to collaborate by clearing away the mush that can block real partnerships and create a safe and secure environment to open the door for collective intelligence.
Source: Clear Leadership, Gervase Bushe, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2001 ISBN: 9780891062271