Monday, May 20, 2013

'There Is An Elephant in the Room': What Makes You Avoid Certain Topics of Conversation?

Elephant walking
Elephant in the room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Suzie Doscher

It is fascinating how quickly talking about a topic that in fact is hurting everybody in some way or another is avoided.

Addressing the issue would bring clarity and awareness.

The problem could then be dealt with and a sense of peace and calm could return.

Yet 'the elephant', the sometimes very 'large elephant', is walked around, and the behaviour can even be such that you pretend the elephant does not actually exist.

Imagine you are in a situation with an 'elephant' in the room. It is painfully obvious that you are both walking around this 'elephant'. The issue is a miscommunication.

'You did not tell me you were going to ..." or "You hurt my feelings by ...". Rather than asking what the reasons for this behaviour were, you mask your hurt by being superficial/polite.

If you think about it, your polite "I am fine" in response to a "What is wrong?" or "How are you?" is in fact a 'miscommunication'. You are withholding the truth by not communicating it.

In other words you are doing exactly what you claim hurt you ... not communicating openly.

Fears sometimes hold you back from addressing the 'elephant'

Being the one who opens up the conversation creates apprehension as it can feel like walking into unknown territory. From experience, personal and professional, one possible reason behind this tends to be a 'fear of' some kind.

In this case it could be a fear of the truth. You were not told because the other person thought you would not approve, or judge him/her for it. They could be worried if they told you, it could result in losing you and so on ...

Being the first one to bring the elephant out into the open will only ever give you strength. Having courage to take a step always brings strength with it.

Ask yourself any of the following questions if you find yourself in a room with an 'elephant':

What will happen if I do nothing? (i.e. everything stays the same, I remain in this place of feeling drained by the situation on some level, and it continues to waste good energy if not time ...)

What will happen if I do something? (i.e. the situation can actually change by knowing what specifically needs to be cleared up, moved on from, healed ...)

What is the worst that could happen if I bring the elephant out in the open? (i.e. I lose the friendship ...)

How will it make me feel about myself to take this action? (i.e. proud, stronger, efficient, open hearted to myself and the other person ...)

What will I gain? (i.e. self-respect, clarity, more energy, being more true to myself and my values ...)

How do I best plan the time and space to address this issue? (i.e. being realistic is very important in this moment. The timing for bringing 'the elephant' out into the open is best planned for when it suits both parties, when there is enough time, space and a good environment)

There will always be situations with 'elephants in the room'. How long you ignore them is up to you. How long you make the choice to feel bad rather than confront the truth, is up to you.

As Susan Jeffers book title suggests, "Feel the Fear, and Do it Anyway". On a personal level you can only gain from being the one who has the strength to clear things up.

Whatever you feel you might be losing is most probably better off lost, if indeed you 'lose' it. More often than not, talking about the issue brings clarity and a resolution. Addressing the topic clears the elephant away.

Suzie Doscher is a Life Coach focusing on Personal Development, NMC Dipl., a Certified Facilitator of the Now What?TM Coaching program and accredited by the International Institute of Coaching (IIC).

For more info about Suzie visit or and contact her for a complimentary Introduction to Coaching Call.

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