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5 Steps to Get the Elephant Out of the Room

(Revised 8/22/22)

What’s big and heavy and gray --- and no one’s talking about it?

You guessed it! It’s the elephant in the room! 🐘

It’s almost comical how we dance around it, while it’s right there... getting heavier and heavier, taking up more valuable space.

The elephants are the obvious but uncomfortable things no one wants to talk about:

  • It’s your 35-year old unemployed nephew who still lives with his parents.

  • It’s our employees not meeting expectations because they know you won’t hold them accountable.

  • It’s the boss belittling people through sarcasm while passing it off as a joke.

Why do we avoid these conversations? Because we feel that if we bring it up, it makes it more real. If we acknowledge it, then we’ll have to deal with it.  We have to face the conflict, or make the change, or deal with the wrath.

When leaders avoid the uncomfortable topics, it’s setting the precedent for the entire team to follow suit.

When people avoid real issues, the damage continues, opportunities are lost, and it affects everyone.

Employees slack, becoming disengaged. Other employees get frustrated at the disengagement they see, and then start to do the same. Trust erodes. Meetings become a big waste of everyone’s time.

We’ve got to have the courage to face the elephant and take meaningful steps to get rid of it.

Here are 5 tips for how to handle the elephants in the room:

  1. First, make sure it’s an elephant! Don’t just assume the issue is well known and avoided by all. Do a little research first.

  2. Bring it up in a safe and objective way. Be honest about the way you see it, yet open to the way others might see it. Talk about why it’s important to change it.

  3. Invite people to weigh in. Facilitate the discussion. Make sure everyone gets a chance to talk and be heard.

  4. Collectively brainstorm solutions, a plan of action, and a method to check in on the progress.

  5. Close the meeting by letting people know the value of open discussions and that some topics will feel uncomfortable. That’s natural. But, we as a team are not going to let elephants hang out here! Help the team see how damaging the elephants can be through your own professional and personal examples.

When we meet the elephant head-on, it's not so intimidating.

If you'd like to learn and practice more techniques to get the elephant out of the room, and engage in healthy team communication, reach out and schedule a free consultation to see how I can help!



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