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3 Steps to Discuss Un-discussable things

In today's workplace, creating a mentally safe environment is crucial, yet "undiscussable" issues remain prevalent. These are topics too sensitive for open discussion. They help us avoid immediate conflicts but pose greater challenges, especially with remote work and online communication. Ignoring these issues strains working relationships and hampers team effectiveness. Discovering and addressing these problematic topics is essential for maintaining team morale and performance. Here are three steps to tackle them:




1. Face Difficult Problems

Recognise signs of “undiscussable” issues: quick, superficial meetings, lack of debate, low participation, persistent conflicts, indirect communication, and low enthusiasm. Studies show over 85% of employees avoid speaking up about important issues due to fear of retaliation, hopelessness, or desire for acceptance. Addressing these problems can significantly boost your organisation's efficiency and morale. Employees often stay silent to avoid backlash, feel the issue is unsolvable, or follow the crowd's wishes.


2. Discuss Complex Issues Without Fear

It's normal to feel anxious about discussing sensitive issues, fearing trouble or blame. However, avoiding these discussions means overestimating risks and underestimating the consequences of inaction. Unresolved issues become significant barriers to team connection and performance. Tackling these problems requires facing uncomfortable truths, which is often challenging initially but brings relief and facilitates problem-solving once addressed. Open discussions foster a collaborative environment for overcoming obstacles together.


3. Model Openness

As a leader, your team watches your reactions to gauge their behaviour. Hostile or harsh responses to complex information can stifle open discussions. Therefore, managing your reactions to challenges and complex information is crucial. Negative responses impact people more, so create an emotionally safe environment by minimising negative consequences for speaking up and amplifying positive reinforcement. When receiving challenging feedback, resist defending your position. Instead, show curiosity and appreciation: “Tell me more” or “Help me understand better.” Thank team members who publicly and privately speak up even if their suggestions can’t be implemented. This appreciation encourages ongoing openness and contributions. 

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