Naming and taming the elephant in the room

June 26, 2007

I don’t believe you can do any kind of authentic work with people unless you name (and tame) the elephant in the room. On several occasions over the past week I’ve worked with groups where someone has been brave enough to name what’s not being said and the depth of the discussion has substantially changed for the good. I think it takes a huge amount of courage to name the unnameable and I think it’s part of my role as a facilitator to make it safe enough for the naming to take place. It’s also part of my job to make sure that the naming is done in a respectful way and is owned by all of those present. I see the courageous one as doing a service on behalf of all. When someone is brave enough to name the shadow and is supported by a group who are brave enough to see their part in it – that’s where real change and transformation takes place. You simply can’t not know what you know. You can make a choice to ignore it or act upon it, but “reality” is forever changed and hiding can’t ever be an option. “I didn’t know” or “nothing to do with me” won’t work in a system where the elephant has been named and ultimately tamed.