The other day, I was asking for feedback from a team I was working with about the value of the program. One of the members came up to me afterwards and said, “please don’t take this personally” and gave me some additional feedback. My response was,” the elephant is in the room whether we talk about him or not. For me, I would prefer to know what you are thinking and feeling so that I can modify the program to give you results that meet your needs.”
Yes, the elephant is in the room whether we talk about him or not. There he is, clomping around, banging into things.
And yet, we often refuse to talk about him. Why is that? Here are the reasons I hear:
- I don’t want confrontation
- I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings
- We can’t do anything about it anyway
My experience is that our reluctance to confront causes the elephant to cause more damage than if we just talked about him and got him out of the room.
It is our role as leaders to invite and initiate the conversation. With the elephant out of the room, we can get on to business. As long as he is there, we are focused internally instead of externally.
What has been your experience?
Brilliant — ignoring the elephant rarely leads to positive change. Addressing the elephant directly, but respectfully, creates the possibility for change.
Thank you for your comments and for reinforcing the connection between acknowledging the elephant and becoming a force for change.