Beginning Tough Conversations

Ever felt that moment when it seems no one realizes there is a large elephant in the room? There is a known challenge that is unspoken and no one has been brave enough to address it. This is the norm in many teams, businesses, and organizations. This is also a very worthy subject of discussion.

Three major items get addressed when you are ready to have these discussions: conflict resolution, team development, and aligning agendas. Of course, perspectives, processes, and personalities also need to be filtered in each discussion. Let’s take a helicopter view of a few suggestions to plant some seeds and open the discussion up.

Choosing personal and professional responsibility to address the elephant in the room requires the decision to be seeking resolutions. It also requires the time to hear all the perspectives. The depth of any elephant also includes discussing the underlying issues surrounding any opportunities for fresh perspectives. Conflict resolution is a choice for someone to start a difficult conversation to develop all those around them.

Examples of this intense conversation could be in response to something as simple as a team member always showing up late to the team meeting, to a team member that is stealing products or ideas from another team member, or to a deeper more sensitive subject matter such as a team member bullying another team member.

All of these and so many more are real items that happen every day in a community. Who takes responsibility to start the conversation?

Team Development has so many perspectives, processes, and personalities to consider in a resolution process. In order to align everyone’s agendas, an overarching agenda ideally creates a foundation for domino discussions. An example is someone that constantly shows up late for a meeting. Ideally, the supervisor of this individual would bring the elephant to the person and the team as an overarching subject and policy. Next, the team has an opportunity to decide if any allowable adjustments may be made to a policy all had supposedly agreed to. This is also an opportunity to make helpful updates and conversations for the team policy. One team member may ask, “What makes one team member more important than others?”, where another team member may ask, “Why does it matter if one team member is constantly late?”. The supervisor then gets the opportunity to take all perspectives back to the overarching team agendas, policies, and processes to determine the next steps for addressing the elephant and a possible resolution. This is a very simple example; many larger elephants and tougher conversations may be necessary.

As we discover one seed or elephant at a time, there are opportunities for all leaders, teams, businesses, and organizations to be willing to look in the mirror, to ask tough questions, truly hear all perspectives, develop processes to address these conversations, and lead the change. The elephants are ripe for discussion and we get to choose to be brave enough to align our agendas on what really matters for all.
[One Light Ahead on for California] [BBB for East Tennessee]

(originally published to for Sacramento Better Business Bureau® on September 28th, 2020)

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