Tackling your team’s undiscussables

Nov 05, 2019

Every organization has “elephants in the room,” or obvious problems and difficult situations that people avoid discussing. Also known as “undiscussables,” these difficulties exist because they help people avoid short-term conflicts, threats and embarrassment. Companies who avoid undiscussable issues actually short-circuit the inquiries and challenges essential to both improving performance and promoting team learning.

The more undiscussables there are, the more difficult it is for the team to function. Ignoring them can result in strained relationships and bad decision-making. Addressing problems within an organization is never easy. But with the right opportunities to practice – to build the muscles of respectful challenge and disagreement – reducing that lag time between seeing and addressing problems is more than possible.

“Paying attention to what people talk about and what they don’t talk about is often an overlooked key to organizational success.” – Sue Annis Hammond and Andrea B. Mayfield, authors of How to Surface Undiscussables for Greater Organizational Success

Leaders must learn how to have constructive dialogue within all levels of the organization, where people talking to each other in a respectful manner allows information to be shared and acted on. Learn effective ways to bring up undiscussables at work without losing courage in this Inc. article.

Why should you care?

This framework can help enable team leaders to identify the dominant undiscussables in businesses and kick-start the necessary conversations to bring them to light.