It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room

We are learning that when we move so far up the ‘nice scale’ we are not dealing with issues in front of us, including our own. And what tends to happen is that all the tension builds up. Issues build up. Unspoken conversations build up.

In saying that, I’ve not yet met a workplace that doesn’t have ‘unsaids’. Those things, or people, they believe they have to tiptoe around. The ‘don’t mention the war’ adage feels about right now. 

It might be about how a leader is being aggressive or dismissive or just not listening. And it’s usually the really senior ones. Or about a decision that we disagree with but haven’t been given permission to do so, nor debate it fairly. Or the best sales person getting away with poor behaviours. Atlassian calls these people ‘Brilliant Jerks’. Amazing at the technical component of their role but just a bit of a d*&k with the human stuff.

These are what we call the ‘elephants’ of the workplace. The big issues that we don’t address. Lurking about. Trying to keep them hidden but knowing they are large. When we have these I can guarantee there will also be a significant gossip culture. Where we talk about people and not to them. These cultures can become toxic fast.

Now everyone gossips. Talking about someone when they are not there – is gossip. It can be good stuff we are talking about but majority of the time it is not.

Cy Wakeman, author of No Ego, quantifies the cost of unresolved people issues. She defines this drama as; “mentally wasteful thought processes or unproductive behaviour that keeps leaders or their teams from delivering the highest level of results”. It includes gossip, blaming, a resistance to change, lack of ownership, not buying in, defensiveness, and dealing with offense. She quantifies that we spend 2.5 hours a day creating or dealing with drama. Whoa! That’s not a small amount of time either.

We need to talk to people, not about them. 

Are there ‘elephants’ or ‘unsaids’ in your business that you’d like to address? Is it time to have that unspoken conversation?  Come along to my online session ‘The problem with nice cultures’ you can check it out here