THE EVIL OF UNDISSCUSSABLES The hidden monsters in the team

The movie “Evil Dead” is considered by many to be the scariest movie ever made. The reasoning is you never actually see the “Evil” in the movie. As a result, your visual brain creates the scariest possible thing it can think of. Because it is unseen it becomes more powerful in our minds.

Likewise, some topics in teams are unseen. That is, they are never “spoken about” bravely and authentically. They are the “unspoken monsters” that destroy team cohesion and performance.

We call these unspoken monsters “The Undiscussables” The longer they exist in a team, but are not spoken about, the more powerful they become.

The unseen evil

An undiscussable is a work-related topic that people don’t address with those who can do something about it. It isn’t that people don’t talk about undiscussables. They talk about them frequently - in the hallways and parking lots, the lunchroom and across the cubicles. But it isn’t with the person or the people most often associated with the issues. They are the topics people come out of a meeting and share with one another privately that should have been part of the agenda.

Undiscussables are more than just sensitive topics; they are the “secrets everyone knows” and they can be incredibly disruptive to trust in relationships and the whole process of getting work done.

Some of the most common topics are how people feel treated by their bosses, why disruptive/lazy people aren’t managed or fired, whether their peers are pulling their weight, tensions around diversity, tensions around working styles, compensation — all kinds of stuff that people are afraid to speak about.

what are you not saying that you should be saying?

So then…

  1. What are the topics we all know about but are currently undiscussable?
  2. As a team, what would we need to change to make the undiscussable topics discussable?
  3. Is this team capable of making these changes?

Remember: If someone is brave enough to raise an undiscussable and then they are punished for it you will make that “monster more powerful and permanent”

Just like the unseen evil in Evil Dead, unspoken undiscussables eventually destroy the cohesion and potential of every team. Ironically these destructive forces are destroyed simply by talking about them.


crucial conversations
Think Differently I Engage Differently I Work Differently
Created By
Jonathan Lincolne

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