Politicians spend their lives mastering it. Good BS'ers have practiced it for years. It's a great way to make people think you have "senior management potential".
- the act of obtaining or removing something from a source : the act of abstracting something
- a general idea or quality rather than an actual person, object, or event : an abstract idea or quality
Back in the day I worked for a brilliant manager who had his team meet with 2 PhD psychologists regularly to practice the latest and greatest theories on effective behaviors and team building skills. During one session we read and worked over "Language in Thought and Action" by S.I. Hayakawa (a U.S. Senator). First published in 1949, it is considered a classic work on semantics.
My first takeaway was to recognize conversations moving from lower-to-higher or higher-to-lower levels of abstraction. This is critical when making decisions since it is usually easier to move up rather than down yet YOU CANNOT RESOLVE ANYTHING MOVING UP!
Unfortunately my experience is that 1) resolving problems 2) recognizing opportunities and 3) defining strategies happen at lower levels of abstraction (often the lowest).
Good stuff, BUT going lower often makes conversations more confrontational, especially when stakes are high. My second takeaway is that it is ALWAYS helpful to rebuild trust by moving up the abstraction ladder. Stating COMMON GOALS AND DESIRES rebuilds confidence that we're still on the same team. This leadership trait is demonstrated spectacularly in Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell when the crew is getting frayed from rapid-fire life and death decisions...
Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks): Gentlemen, what are your intentions?
[Jack Swigert and Fred Haise turn around and stare at Lovell]
Jim Lovell: I'd like to go home.
They did too.
" You've got to be careful when you're talking about reality" -- my friend Ed Hudsonby