We all have conversations we avoid. On a personal level, there are the things we don't talk about in families...the secrets kept hidden for generations, causing all sorts of problems not only when they're hidden, but also when they surface. On a work level, we all know the subjects that are on everyone's mind at work...but don't get talked about. It's as if there is a secret pact in a work team that "we don't talk about that here." That is not a good thing.. The more issues we avoid, the less we have to use as the base for innovative ideas and solutions.
You know what I mean, right? The boss doesn't want to discuss what happened when that guy down the hall suddenly wasn't around any more. Did he die? Get fired? Quit? Boss doesn't want his name mentioned...so of course it's not mentioned in front of the Boss...but talked about in heated whispers when Boss isn't around. How much better to bring up the matter, hash out what happened, and use it as a learning opportunity for everyone.
I've been thinking how Barack Obama's speech about the need for a national conversation about race and how it has application for other subjects as well. The NYTimes front page story today included emails written to friends and loved ones by 6 different members of our US military...before they were killed in Iraq. Recently. It is a moving account of aspirations, hopes and dreams of our American young before their lives were cut short by a war that nearly nobody wants to fight. It makes me think of the veterans who survive this war, and how neglectful we are as a nation to those who serve and sacrifice so much. And the sacrifices of our service members are accompanied by the constricted and worried lives of those they left behind, and with whom they must knit up the raveled sleeve of their family and work circumstances once they return.
If there is a conversation you know you should have--whether at work, at home, or elsewhere--broach the subject. Start by saying something like "This is difficult for me, but I'd like to bring something up that needs to be said..." And say your piece. See what happens. I predict the person to whom you direct your remarks will be relieved. Maybe not. But you will have opened a door that at least you--and maybe more--can finally walk through.