We’ve all done it. We’ve tiptoed and twirled and tap danced around an elephant. You know the one I mean; she’s the behemoth who sits in the middle of the room and won’t budge. Sometimes it’s hard to see her, but you can feel her presence. If you let her, she’ll suck the life out of the party.
And we do let her.
We cater to her. She feeds off our awkwardness and carefully chosen words and avoidance. She gets bigger and bigger as she gorges on morsels of our discomfort. And we keep dancing around her.
The thing is, she’s a cooperative soul–and a polite one, too. She’ll leave in a heartbeat; all you have to do is ask. That happened to me the other day in such an unexpected, direct way that I was awed by its simplicity.
A friend came to visit and carefully stepped over my elephant. Then he turned to me and said, “Can we get something out of the way?”
Just like that, my pervasive pachyderm disappeared. She left without a whimper, and our real conversation got started.
If we don’t want to dance around an elephant, all we have to do is confront it. Who knew it was that easy?