‘When there are elephants in the room…..just introduce them’
What exactly does is it mean to have an elephant in the room? That statement is made frequently and it often comes across as being negative.
Is it a distraction say in a meeting, when there are other burning priorities perhaps? Or something else like a sensitive subject and controversy ? Could be a repeated and revisited boulder of a problem that is difficult to get past? Quite possible it is unspoken animosity that generates and brews disdain from anger and fear. Whatever it is, it is consuming, blocks the view, steps on toes, and as many would say, is annoying. All this from the negative side of having ‘an elephant in the room’. Something you feel but you can’t see, like stifling humidity.
Shift gears for a moment and focus on the iconic elephant. True pachyderm societies are in reality, full of emotional and caring mammals. The character of elephants can be described as grand, loyal, protective, iconic, majestic, and potentially aggressive. Elephants are typically identifiable in the wild by their personalities. So when in our evolution of business to the 21st century, did elephants develop such a bad wrap? This simply suggests a change in the way we view a given situation; one that causes us to react to an uncomfortable climate in a room.
Metaphorically we have labeled the elephant as a menace to our potentially productive environments.
What if we went out on the limb and looked at this from a different angle? Inviting ‘elephants’ to pull up a chair and bring those hidden agendas to our tables? It’s fair game for dialogue, those often times heavy boulders of granite like issues. Risk? Yes. Consider this however; is the pain of continuous agitation greater than the difficult conversations on the road to resolution where you get to build a bridge with an elephant and save your toes in the process? Another step on the road to happier work. Heavy topic, pun intended.
I say we can learn great things from the elephants.