The Elephant in the Room
Engaging with the Unsaid in Groups and Organizations
- Available for pre-order on February 16, 2023. Item will ship after March 9, 2023
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A group is working on a business challenge. The group members are under pressure. They have a lot to accomplish and a limited amount of time. After first attempting to develop an overview of their common task, they try to make a plan to ensure an efficient group process. The planning is proving difficult. We’ve all been there. We are in a working group or at a meeting, discussing a topic or a challenge, and all the while, as a separate track running underneath our conversation, there is a subtext that no one explicitly addresses. This is an example of ‘the elephant in the room.’ Most of us notice the elephant, it gets in the way, and it’s difficult to deal with until someone points at it and says, ‘There it is, let’s take a look at it and reduce its impact.’ With an engaging use of examples and questions, Lotte Svalgaard addresses how we can best deal with the elephant and thus promote job satisfaction, creativity and productivity. In the context of action, what we notice often recedes into the background and gradually slips out of focus until we eventually reconnect with our need to reflect and recreate a space for it. This book addresses the challenge of focusing on, holding on to and acting on what we notice ‘in the middle of it all’. Maintaining a simultaneous focus on task and process – what we do and what we notice – is what I define as ‘double awareness’. Double awareness is not only a core capacity but also a core challenge. The aim of the book is to promote understanding and awareness of this core challenge and to inspire both reflection and action in anyone wishing to improve their capacity for double awareness. How can we understand the practice of mindful avoidance? (I define mindful avoidance as the active avoidance of a potentially threatening or difficult situation where we deliberately turn our awareness away from what we are noticing.) And can we, as members of groups and organizations, begin to practice mindful action by engaging in and acting on what we notice in real time?
Table of Contents
Introduction Reader’s Guide Theme 1: Double Awareness Chapter 1: What is double awareness? Chapter 2: Being mindful of what is above and below the surface Chapter 3: Difficult feelings, negative capability and defenses Chapter 4: The practice – and consequences – of mindful avoidance Chapter 5: Emotions as disturbance and loss of control Chapter 6: Not-knowing as a competence Theme 2: Mindful Action Chapter 7: Truth Chapter 8: Transparency Chapter 9: Trust Theme 3: From Avoidance to Commitment Chapter 10: Identifying and avoiding mindful avoidance Chapter 11: Mobilizing the three T’s Chapter 12: Consequences for leadership and organizational development Final reflections Your own reflections
Lotte Svalgaard holds a Phd and a MSc in Business Psychology. Her research investigates how individuals can be awake and aware, show up and engage with challenges outside of their comfort zone. Her writing has appeared in Management Learning, Action Learning – Research & Practice, Socioanalysis and SAGE Research Method Cases. Her passion, to contribute to create more passionate and mindful organizations, makes up the platform for her work, her research and her authorships. She is a global leadership development professional with extensive experience within group dynamics, experiential leadership development, and organizational consultancy. I is currently a senior leadership consultant and executive coach at INSEAD, consulting and coaching on senior executive leadership programs across multiple industries around the world. Besides her work at INSEAD, she is a senior partner in Action Lab, where she designs and implements business driven action learning programs for global companies. Since 2001, she has been an associated professor, lecturer and supervisor at the ‘Master of Psychology in Organisations’ at Roskilde University, Denmark.