Monday, December 7, 2015
Hey, Manager! Point out the Elephant Everyone Pretends Not to See
Want to win in the boardroom, conference room, and your office? Stop being a blind wuss and point squarely and unequivocally at the elephant in the room everyone already knows is there.
At every point in any negotiation, conversation or business meeting, the communication stalls based on something neither party is willing to discuss, but both parties are thinking about. That “elephant in the room” is getting right in the way or progress, but nobody is brave enough to bring it up, point it out, and move around it. If you want to win the conversation, you need to be that person.
Sure, you don’t need to be obnoxious about it, but don’t be too circumspect either. Tiptoeing around an elephant still doesn’t acknowledge it. Initially, that might make some people uncomfortable, but, honestly, that’s not really a bad thing. Discomfort can be an advantage. It shakes people up, gets people listening.
And, really, that’s the only downside to pointing out the elephant. Some people might be, temporarily, a bit more uncomfortable. Meanwhile, ALL of you are losing money because you can’t get past this ridiculous refusal to admit what’s keeping all of you distracted.
Remember, feelings are fine, but you – all of you – are in business to make money. If you have people on your team caring more about how they feel right at that moment than whether or not their contribution is getting them paid, then you may want to rethink your priorities.
Now, before you go off on me … yes, there is a time and place for empathy, and, remember, I’m not suggesting anyone be a jerk here. This is not about hurting or humiliating anyone. This is specific to the context of a business deal that is stalling because of an issue nobody wants to bring up. THAT is the context. And it happens all the time.
Everything is going along smoothly. All sides are happy with the progress, then, for some reason, things stall. Someone starts to back away, metaphorically or physically. Everyone else wonders what the issue is, but nobody seems willing to bring it up. Why not just put it out there, dispense with the pretense.
That’s the message. Give it a try next time that elephant is crowding your space.
Gennady Barsky is a real estate mogul from NYC.