I’ve started a PG Cert in Leadership Coaching and one of the most interesting books I’ve come across on the reading list is called ‘Clear Leadership’ by Gervase Bushe. It talks about ‘interpersonal mush’ and how you can cut through this to sustain and improve the quality of your relationships at work.
What is ‘interpersonal mush’?
The book talks about how each individual has their own experience of an event and that this is different to everyone else’s. For example, in a large team meeting you may have a leader talking about organisational changes that need to be made. During the meeting, unless the leader has been very clear, everyone will have their unique way of interpreting what that person is saying and makes up their own story about the experience, filling in the gaps. After the meeting, individuals might meet up and share these stories, checking and embellishing on them. This leads to what the author expresses as ‘interpersonal mush’.
This ‘mush’ can also happen between individual team members, especially where there may be hidden agendas, unresolved conflicts and miscommunication getting in the way.
This is where there’s a culture of clearing out the ‘mush’. If the mush occurs, the author recommends having ‘learning conversations’ about your experience with team members. He divides experience into observation, thinking, feeling and wants, recommending that you start the conversation with observations as they have an objective quality.
One of the skills for interpersonal clarity is self-awareness, which also means realising that some of your experience goes on outside of your awareness, in the sub-conscious.
Clear Leadership – the book
The book itself is very easy to read and really makes some excellent points. The book goes on to to talk about all the skills you need to be a clear leader. It makes the point that this is helpful for anyone that works in a partnership i.e. a team of two or more.