The Elephant in the Room

We all have conflict in our lives. Some good, some not so good.

Recently I had the privilege of working with a leadership team on conflict and their conflict styles.

We talked about the various ways or methods to conflict well as a team.

We talked about our styles and the impact on our ability to conflict.

We talked about our tendency to avoid conflict.

We talked about avoiding the elephant in the room.

I remembered a story I read about Kayak.com and their solution to avoiding conflict. They have highly visible conference room, and placed a stuffed elephant in that room, a room that was a designated place to encourage open and healthy conflict.

As described in the Bloomberg.com article by Claire Suddath:

There’s an elephant in the room at Kayak.com. An actual elephant—a two-foot-tall stuffed animal named Annabelle that Kayak’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Paul English, bought and put in a conference room. “So often at work, people have issues that they can’t resolve because they won’t talk about it,” says English. “I don’t like that. We try to be shockingly transparent about everything here.” Annabelle is a symbol of that.

We laughed about the story, and talked about ways this team could take the elephant in the room approach to conflict.

This team could find a space that is visible and open.

This team could start to practice engaging in conflict in a healthy way that sets an example for their peers, and for the organization as a whole.

The day was coming to an end.

We recapped some of the lessons and strategies to move forward and make progress as a team.

The leader encouraged everyone to apply the lessons learned, and to begin to practice some of these new methods.

To help the team apply these lessons, the leader did something else.

The leader reminded everyone that they do have a visible and open conference room.


The Elephant Room

The leader also invited a special guest.

The Elephant in the Room

Where have you avoided the elephant in the room? What reminder would help you learn to conflict well?

Find a space.

Find a reminder.

Go and conflict well.

4 Comments on “The Elephant in the Room

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