Most of us have heard the expression “there’s an elephant in the room.” Elephants are those unspoken issues that need to be vocalized and cleared. Yet for a variety of reasons, people fail to address them for fear of personal or professional reprisals. Ironically, expressing those concerns in a professional manner can make a significant difference in getting the results you and your company need. While you may use the excuse, “it doesn’t matter,” some unresolved issues will negatively impact the outcome of your goal – regardless of your feelings about them.
Sensitive Elephants. If there is a topic that needs to be addressed that might be hurtful to others, have a private conversation with the few people who can impact the outcome. Be responsible you don’t recycle the “ain’t it awful.” Come up with a workable resolution everyone can live with – even if everyone does not wholeheartedly agree. Resolve not to get frustrated if others don’t immediately agree with your outcome. They’ve not had as much time to think about your solution as you have!
Overwhelming Elephants. While the issue may seem impossibly immense and awkward, start the conversation simply and slowly. Allow others the opportunity to voice their concerns without fear of reprisal. You may find the elephant wasn’t so big after all. Once everyone is on the same page, brainstorm solutions and create focused action plans to ensure everyone moves forward. Now.
Dancing Elephants. Although you may believe the elephant has been addressed, issues will still linger if critical components have not been addressed. These issues will impede progress and show up in other areas of the company. Review the conversations to determine what was missed. This time, get an outside objective opinion to help you get it resolved conclusively.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2011