How Undiscussable are your Undiscussables?

How Undiscussable are your Undiscussables?

[This post is excerpted from my new book, “Memeology“]

Suggested Preamble

Most organisations have things that nobody talks about, because broaching these topics can make people feel nervous, uncomfortable, or threatened. It’s common to refer to topics that people avoid discussing as “The Elephant in the Room”, or more prosaically as “undiscussables”. 

Suggested Opening Question

How many memes (topics) do we collectively baulk at discussing?

Note: In group settings, especially early on in the surfacing of and reflecting on collective assumptions and beliefs, it may be a challenge to start talking about specific undiscussables. Even simply naming these topics may prove a step too far, at the outset. This opening question does not intend to drive the identification of undiscussable topics, but to afford an opportunity to explore the more general subject of undiscussability, and the prevalence of undiscussability across the organisation.

Suggested Follow-on Questions

Might it help open up this meme (topic) if we categorise our different kinds of undiscussables?

What categories might we choose?

What impact – if any – do our undiscussables have on our organisation?

What are some specific undiscussables here in our own organisation?

How discussable is undiscussability itself for us?

How tolerant are we of undiscussability? 

Suggested Wrapping Up

What have we learned or come to realise, maybe for the first time, in our conversation here today on undiscussability?

How far apart or together are we now on the subject of undiscussability? Has airing the subject eased our concerns?

Is it time for action on undiscussability? And if so, how might we go about setting some action(s) in train?

Further Reading

Schachter, H. (2019, November 9). It’s Finally Time to Discuss the Undiscussables of the Workplace. Controllers On Call. Retrieved June 1, 2021, from

Noonan, W.R. (2007). Discussing the Undiscussable: A Guide to Overcoming Defensive Routines in the Workplace. Jossey-Bass.

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