When communication breaks down, it usually happens in two distinct ways.
The first way is one we’re all familiar with. Communication breaks down through unintentional slips and errors.
We misunderstand someone’s accent or we have trouble reading someone’s handwriting.
Maybe someone forgets something and drops the baton between one shift and another, one department and another, or even one profession and another.
These mistakes are unintentional. There’s a small slip, communication breaks down, and we’re dead in the water — at least for a little while.
We all know what that’s like, and unfortunately, we can’t prevent those issues forever. It’s simply part of human nature.
On the other hand, there’s a different kind of communication breakdown where you know (or strongly suspect) something’s wrong.
It might keep you up worrying every night, but for some reason, nobody (including you) speaks up about it. Instead, everyone involved stays silent.
Maybe you or someone else spoke up about the issue once upon a time, but it was a like triggering a landmine in the room. It exploded in your faces, and as time went on, the issue became unspeakable.
This issue becomes ‘the elephant in the room’ that no-one speaks about again, even though they know it’s there.
Here’s a fun fact about elephants: they’re not known for being very light-footed. The elephants in the room will stomp all over your career, marriage, and productivity if they’re not discussed and resolved.
I know that sounds dim and grim, but there’s good news here too.
While there are millions of unintentional slips and errors, there’s a very limited number of elephants in most rooms. In most businesses, work teams, marriages, etc., there may be only two or three elephants — sometimes three or four.
This actually gives you powerful leverage. If you can address and resolve these issues, you can change the entire dynamic and trajectory of relationship. That’s what Crucial Conversations is all about.
Want to eliminate a culture of silence and remove the elephants from the room?