May you enjoy a Moose-free Holiday Season! Moose-on-the-table is a concept I’ve written about extensively such as in my “edutaining” fictional book by that title. Around the world I’ve facilitated management teams having courageous conversations about elephants in the room, and kangaroos or camels on the table.
The original concept comes from families with significant issues like abuse or alcoholism but avoid talking about them. So that moose stands on the dining room table eating off one end and dropping moose pies on the other end. Everyone ignores the hairy beast and pretends it’s not there.
Courageous conversations was a core theme of Moose on the Table: A Novel Approach to Communications @ Work. It was also woven through Growing @ the Speed of Change: Your Inspir-actional How-To Guide For Leading Yourself and Others through Constant Change. Here’s an excerpt from Growing @ the Speed of Change to ponder as you head into the Holiday Season.
Courageous Personal Conversations
“The easiest kind of relationship for me is with ten thousand people. The hardest is with one.”
– Joan Baez (1941 – ), Mexican-American folk singer and songwriter
I was speaking to a group going through huge organizational changes as their industry experienced dramatic restructuring. We broke the auditorium into three sections with small discussion groups in each identifying what we’re feeling, saying, and doing when dealing with these changes in leading, following, or wallowing mode. During the recap of each group’s findings, we agreed that often we need to dip down into Wallowing territory to vent briefly or let go of painful emotions during times of big changes in our personal or professional lives. I added that we may take therapeutic visits to Pity City, but it’s a deadly place to live. A woman in the front row blurted out, “My husband is the mayor!”
I hope she was talking with him about that and constructively challenging or reframing his thinking. Less effective relationships — many of which don’t last — are characterized by poor quality and quantity of communications. Often that’s because of low courage, skill, or under-appreciating just how critical those courageous conversations really are.
Psychologist and author of The 100 Simple Secrets of Relationships, David Niven, reports “Couples who never argue are 35 percent more likely to divorce. On the surface, that seems like a strange finding, since we associate arguments with bad outcomes, but an inability to share frustration is a dangerous thing. If you don‘t argue, [frustrations] build up within you until they get bigger and bigger.” Of course, the quality of those arguments — staying on message about the problems, issue or specific behavior and not making personal attacks or put-downs — is also critical.