Why Managers Need to Learn to Discuss Undiscussables in The Workplace

Why Managers Need to Learn to Discuss Undiscussables in The Workplace

Posted on January 10th, 2024

Managers play a pivotal role in fostering a healthy and productive work environment. 

While they are responsible for numerous tasks and decisions, one often overlooked but crucial skill is the ability to address undiscussables in the workplace. 

Navigating these unspoken issues with finesse and openness can significantly impact team dynamics, employee morale, and overall organizational success. 

In this blog post, we will delve into the importance of this skill and explore effective strategies for managers to master the art of discussing undiscussables.

What are Undiscussables?

Undiscussables are the issues, concerns, or topics that often lurk beneath the surface in a workplace but remain unspoken, hidden from open discussion. They are the proverbial elephants in the room, the uncomfortable truths, or the sensitive matters that employees and even managers may hesitate to address directly. 

These undiscussables can manifest in various ways, such as:

  • Employee Conflicts: Unresolved disputes or tensions among team members that are avoided rather than openly addressed.
  • Performance Issues: Instances where an employee's subpar performance is evident but not discussed due to fear of confrontation.
  • Communication Breakdowns: When miscommunications or misunderstandings persist but are not rectified.
  • Workplace Culture Concerns: Problems related to workplace culture, diversity, inclusion, or ethical dilemmas that are swept under the rug.
  • Leadership Challenges: Issues related to managerial behavior, decisions, or expectations that employees are reluctant to raise.

Addressing undiscussables is essential because it fosters a culture of transparency, trust, and growth within an organization. By acknowledging these issues and addressing them head-on, managers can create a more inclusive, productive, and harmonious workplace.

The Power of Addressing the Undiscussable

In the workplace, addressing undiscussables may seem like a daunting task, but it is a crucial practice that can yield significant benefits. Here's why it's essential to confront these sensitive issues:

1. Fosters a Culture of Openness and Trust

When managers encourage open discussions about undiscussables, it sends a clear message that they value transparency and honesty. This fosters a culture where employees feel safe and empowered to voice their concerns and ideas, leading to improved trust among team members and management.

2. Resolves Hidden Conflicts

Undiscussables often stem from unresolved conflicts or tensions. By addressing these issues, managers can uncover the root causes of disputes and work towards finding constructive solutions. This not only resolves immediate conflicts but also prevents them from escalating into more significant problems.

3. Enhances Communication

Openly discussing undiscussables can break down communication barriers. It encourages team members to express themselves more freely, leading to improved understanding and collaboration. Effective communication is essential for a well-functioning team and organization.

4. Drives Innovation

Innovation thrives in environments where diverse perspectives are valued and ideas can be freely exchanged. Addressing undiscussables can lead to the discovery of innovative solutions and approaches that might have remained hidden otherwise.

5. Boosts Employee Morale and Engagement

When employees see that their concerns are taken seriously and acted upon, their morale and engagement levels increase. Feeling heard and valued at work can lead to higher job satisfaction and a more positive work environment.

6. Prevents Escalation

Undiscussables left unaddressed can escalate over time, potentially causing significant disruptions and damage to the organization. By proactively dealing with these issues, managers can prevent them from spiraling out of control.

7. Supports Growth and Development

Effective leaders recognize that addressing undiscussables is an opportunity for growth and development, both for individual employees and the organization as a whole. By confronting these issues, managers can identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes.

Strategies for Discussing Undiscussables

Learning to discuss undiscussables is not just a valuable skill for managers; it's a necessity. It requires effective communication, active listening, and emotional intelligence. Managers who can facilitate conversations around difficult topics can create a more inclusive and supportive workplace. In this section, we'll explore strategies and techniques that managers can use to address undiscussables effectively. These approaches can help create a culture where open and honest conversations are encouraged.

1. Create a Safe Space

Managers should establish an environment where employees feel safe to express their opinions without fear of retaliation or judgment. This includes actively listening to their concerns and showing empathy.

2. Use Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry is a problem-solving approach that focuses on the positive aspects of a situation. Managers can use this technique to reframe discussions about undiscussables in a constructive and solution-oriented way.

3. Foster Open Communication

Encourage team members to voice their concerns and ideas regularly. Implement regular check-ins or feedback sessions to provide opportunities for open dialogue.

4. Provide Training and Resources

Offer training in communication skills, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence to both managers and employees. Providing resources and tools can empower individuals to address undiscussables effectively.

5. Lead by Example

Managers should model the behavior they want to see in their teams. By embracing a values-based leadership, addressing undiscussables themselves and demonstrating openness and vulnerability, they can set a positive example for others.

6. Seek External Assistance

In some cases, bringing in an external facilitator or mediator can help address complex undiscussables. Their neutrality and expertise can guide the conversation toward a resolution.


In the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of the workplace, effective leadership goes beyond task management and decision-making. It extends to the ability to address undiscussables, those sensitive issues that often remain hidden beneath the surface. 

At Cubie Davis King, PhD., we understand the significance of this skill in fostering a healthy and productive work environment. Our commitment to leadership development and executive coaching is rooted in the belief that great leaders empower their teams to address undiscussables openly. We provide comprehensive coaching solutions, including our Leadership Academy, to equip managers and leaders with the tools and insights they need to navigate these challenging conversations.

Contact Us Now!

Ready to take your leadership skills to the next level? Reach out to us at (619) 206-5464 or via email at [email protected]. Let's embark on this transformative journey together, unlocking your leadership potential and driving positive change within your organization.

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