The Elephant In The Room

The elephant in the room.  We all know it exists.  We have all seen it.  We rarely have the nerve to talk about it.  We pretend that it can be ignored and worked around.  We are kidding ourselves.  The thing about the elephant in the room is that it may start with one, but it can quickly grow to a herd of elephants capable of a stampede at any time.

So how do we address it?  How do we open the discussion around the big grey beast that sits in our conference rooms silently disrupting progress and healthy discussions?

Why not first agree to acknowledge it?  We need to speak up and ask the question, “Did anyone feel that? I think something might have entered the room?”  We need to describe what we see, “It looks rather large, grey, long nose, big floppy ears, short tail.”  We need to describe what it is doing, “It seems to be heading in your direction Chris, and I think it wants to sit down.”  We need to ask if others see what we see, “Did everyone see that?  It just sat on Chris.”  We need to understand that when we do not acknowledge the elephant good people get hurt.

At the heart of any elephant in the room is a problem.  A problem beckoning to be solved.  A problem, that if acknowledged, can be the first step to bringing positive change.

At the heart of any elephant in the room is a problem.  A problem beckoning to be solved.  A problem, that if acknowledged, can be the first step to bringing positive change.

Problems can be multi-dimensional.  The heart of any problem solving is to get to the root cause.  We frequently identify symptoms and address the symptoms while leaving the root cause exposed.  The result?  The problem continues.  Problems require in-depth research where we begin to identify symptoms, patterns, and general attributes.  We can never fully solve a problem until we have done the research as to what it is.  In fact, we can make the problem worse.

Once we understand the problem we can begin to solve it.  We can begin to look at how we can eliminate the symptoms in hopes that we find the magic cure for the root cause.  It takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes testing to try a solution or solutions and observation, understanding and acceptance that our solutions might not be working.

It is the admission that the problem is bigger than just one person, one event, one ultimate solution or golden key to the gates of perfection.  It is admitting that perfection will never be achieved but that it should never stop us from trying to make something better.

It is the admission that everyone sees a situation in different ways.  One person’s elephant might be another person’s unicorn.  That perhaps those that view the problem as a unicorn do not see the damage that is being done.  That if they did they would do something about it.

We have become too afraid to speak up for what we see.  We have become fearful of speaking our truths.  We need to learn honesty.  We need to observe more and talk less.  We need to stop pretending our lives are perfect and that we must always be positive.

Sure, we want to think positively but since when does ignoring a problem result in a positive outcome?  That the word “problem” itself has been associated with negativity instead of an opportunity to make something better.  That those that see problems and know how to break them down and solve them are looked at as “trouble-makers” and “negative”.

So it’s time, it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room.  The fact that we are afraid to speak our truths.  The fact that we are losing our ability to communicate with the constant push of information and no one pulling the information in to analyze it.  The fact that analysts are overwhelmed with the different components that make up any problem because there are so many contributing factors.

We need to start to take a problem and talk about the “good facts” and “bad facts” that they are comprised of.  We need to recognize that some facts may be good and bad.  They may be both an elephant and a unicorn and we need to understand why.  We need to start looking at it as an opportunity to make the world around us better.  It starts with accepting that we have a problem, an elephant, a herd of elephants about ready to destroy all that are in their path.



Raissa Urdiales
Raissa Urdiales
Raissa lived most of her life along the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. She currently lives in the quiet city of Tega Cay, South Carolina, just across the border from the very active art community of Charlotte, North Carolina. Raissa has not always considered herself as an artist. She spent a great portion of her adult life staring into computer screens and managing computer system implementations and upgrades in the traditional corporate setting. It was through a chance paint night that she discovered her passion for painting. On her 51st birthday, she treated herself to some acrylic paints and brushes and has not stopped painting since. She balances her passion for creating with her day job as a systems analyst. In the wee hours of the morning, you will find her painting before she immerses herself in the technology that is consuming the world today. Although Raissa does not have formal training in the arts she is very conscious of the benefits it has on the human psyche. She holds a Bachelor's of Science majoring in Psychology where she focused her studies on Organizational Psychology. Through her corporate career, she has learned how to strike a balance between that which provides monetary reward and that which fulfills us as humans. For her, this balance is obtained through painting, writing, and exercise. She is currently a member of the Guild of Charlotte Artists where she exhibits select pieces during the quarterly art shows in and around the Charlotte Metropolitan Area. She has also submitted and is featured regularly in the Light Space & Time online gallery. When she is not painting or working with computer systems, she is writing. She currently has a column with BIZCATALYST 360° named “Artful Being” where she writes on topics both in and out of her corporate life to help others gain balance on what it is to be human.

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  1. The elephant in the room can be on an individual, couple, family and social level. And, the reasons for not wanting to see the elephant in the room can be different: fear of breaking the balance, fear of losing the relationship with the other, inability to communicate one’s thoughts and emotions and much more.
    How to get out?
    You can prove it by affirming all together and out loud that the elephant is there and we need to talk about it; accept, momentarily, the presence of the elephant and do not try to chase it away immediately; welcoming him with gentleness as one would do with a real elephant; slowly, bringing it back to its natural habitat, that is, finding the way out of the problem.

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