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do you have any dead fish hanging around

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?