In his book on boundaries for leaders, Henry Cloud uses a wonderful analogy to help us understand why it is important to have difficult conversations. When we avoid a difficult converation, we are allowing a dead fish to stink up the room — only no one wants to admit there is a problem: “I don’t smell anything.” In other words, no one wants to bring the dead fish out into the open.
This might happen when …
- No one wants to confront an abusive leader.
- A teammate’s misbehavior is allowed to continue.
- A parent chooses to overlook statements and actions that indicate potential trouble.
- Excuses are offered instead of changes.
Businesses, churches, families — each can suffer from a dead fish in the room. No amount of room deodorant will fix the problem; the problem is not in the air, it’s the fish. The room may smell nice for a while, but the fish stink will eventually return.
Do you have any dead fish hanging around?