How many of us are in relationships where something is not being said?

It may be at work where someone’s lack of energy or commitment is driving you crazy but you have not said anything. Or it could be a colleague who complains continually about his or her personal life and you put up with their behaviour. Maybe you have family members – in laws, step children, siblings - who treat you with disrespect and you don’t know how to deal with them. Are there issues you are unhappy about in your relationship with your spouse or partner that you choose not to talk about?

Sometimes the issues we avoid talking about are relatively minor. Sometimes they are huge! It’s like there’s an elephant in the room that no-one acknowledges and everyone steps carefully around. We give ourselves many excuses for not saying anything. We don’t want to rock the boat; we think the person will eventually realize the effect their behaviour is having; we have got used to putting up with it; we don’t think that anything we say will make a difference; we don’t know what to say…

In the meantime we bite our lips and put up with poor performance, toxic behaviour and disrespect. Some of us end up with whole herds of elephants in our lives and our relationships. And we all know the damage a herd of elephants can do!

Unwittingly, we compound the problem. If we don’t speak up when the behaviour of others affects us negatively, we tacitly condone it. Put more bluntly, what we allow others to do, we teach them to do! In bringing up our children most of us understand this rule and we teach them to behave in ways that are acceptable to us. We forget that the rules are no different with adults: we teach them how they may behave by the way we either tolerate or confront their behaviour. When we step around the elephants we allow their behaviour to continue.

Are you teaching people to be disrespectful toward you? Are you teaching people to ignore your needs? How many people have learned that they can borrow money from you without having to return it? How many know that you will always put their needs before your own? Have you taught the people who work for you that you never confront their poor performance and they can get away with a minimum amount of effort?

So the thought for today is… how many elephants are you stepping around?

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