Addressing the issue would bring clarity and awareness. Yet talking about a topic that in fact is affecting everybody in some way or another is avoided. The problem could be dealt with, and a sense of clarity, peace, and calm could return if only the issue could be discussed. Yet the elephant, the sometimes very large elephant, is ignored. Its existence is denied.
Imagine you are in a situation with an elephant in the room. For example, let us say the issue is a miscommunication. It is painfully obvious you are walking around the elephant. The air is so thick you could cut it, anybody entering the room can feel the bad energy, it is that obvious. Rather than clarifying the issue, you mask your hurt, confusion, frustration, or anger by being superficial and polite. If someone asks you what is wrong or if you’re okay, you answer: “Nothing” or “I am fine.”
Think about it, your polite “I am fine” in response is in fact a miscommunication. You are doing exactly what hurt, confused, frustrated, or made you angry… not communicating openly. You are withholding the truth by not communicating it.
Depending on the issue and to communicate more openly, consider saying one of the following statements:
From my coaching clients I hear more and more examples of the same scenario happening in the workplace. Employees are fearful of asking their managers or leaders for more clarity relating to the objectives or processes of a project. Some of my clients get the feeling that their boss thinks it is a waste of time to dedicate time to interact and work more closely with their team. However, often the reality is that their own workload will fall behind. They do not have enough time even to think about trying to interact to motivate and inspire. Everyone is pushed to meet deadlines.
The stories go on and on. There are lots of elephants out there! Being the one who opens up the conversation can create apprehension. It can feel like walking into unknown territory. From my own experience, both personal and professional, one possible reason behind this tends to be some kind of fear. In this case it could be a fear of the truth. You were not told because the other person thought you would not approve or that you might be judgmental. They might be worried that telling you what the problem is could result in creating a new problem. Or they simply might be worried about losing you.
Being the first one to bring the elephant out into the open will only ever give you strength. Having courage to take a step always brings strength with it.
If you find yourself in a room with an elephant, ask yourself any of the following questions:
Whatever you feel you might be losing is most probably better off lost, if indeed you do lose it. More often than not, talking about the issue brings clarity, a resolution and a feeling of calm.
Listen to the audiobook version of this exercise:
An excerpt from Balance - A Practical Handbook for Life's Difficult Moments by Suzie Doscher,
Executive Coach focusing on Personal Development, Self-help Author since 2014.
Photo from Unsplash by mana5280
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Self-Help Book / Personal Development