Book Review: Don’t Feed the Elephants!

Don’t Feed the Elephants! – Sarah Noll Wilson – Book Cover

Book: Don’t Feed the Elephants!: Overcoming the Art of Avoidance to Build Powerful Partnerships

Author: Sarah Noll Wilson (@sarahnollwilson) · Twitter

Genre: Non-fiction, business

Review copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

Don’t Feed the Elephants! by Sarah Noll Wilson is a handbook for personal and professional life. With an appealing cover and text embellished with relevant drawings, the content of the book is engrossing. Building on the proverbial elephant in the room, Wilson, a leadership coach with a doctorate in Adaptive Leadership, reflects on common behavioral issues that create barriers at work and home. Feigning ignorance, harboring avoidance, seething in silence, or telling problems to people other than those who can resolve them, are some hallmarks of “feeding peanuts” to the elephant in the room.

Sarah Wilson writes on the subject from a place of knowledge and experience. By sharing her life scenarios and professional case studies, she expounds on concepts of vulnerability, courage, mindfulness, powerful conversations, and even curiosity. The subject will resonate with many, including those who walk out of meeting rooms knowing too well, “If there is more truth in the hallways than in meetings, you have a problem.

The book has nuggets needed for good leadership and relationship management, including references from other writers. As Wilson observes, “… a productive relationship is one where all parties can disagree openly, effectively, and respectfully.” After establishing the book’s premise, including explaining the science behind a triggered Amygdala, Wilson names the elephants that we nourish at the expense of our mental peace and spiritual growth. She provides cheat sheets to not only identify each but also how to tackle them out of your life.

The questions toolkit is handy, and one can create their own each time one faces an elephant. The book has relevance for leaders with information on unconscious bias, feedback, intentions, team dynamics, and conflicts. Wilson explains the significance of learning to identify and stop feeding elephants in corporate setups. She also advises how to introduce the concept of elephants to a team.

Elephants belong in the vast expanse, not the shallow confines of insecure minds. Use Sarah Wilson’s book to set them free and liberate yourself from mind games and self-manipulations. I relished this book and will refer to it often. The anecdotes were enlightening and relatable. The writing is crisp, and the book is well-organized. This truly enjoyable and informative book deserves to be on your bookshelf.

Mantra for simple, effective communication

Read my previous post here – Art and Technology

I am back with some more observations around the intricate depictions in The Billion Dollar Code, a 2021 German television miniseries on Netflix. Since this piece is related to the last episode and centers around the courtroom drama, it has a few spoilers.

Two things drew my attention in episode 4. The first was an emphasis on body language and gesture as tools of effective communication. The second was the impact of simplifying complex technical material into plain language, amplified with a simple flowchart.

When ART+COM founders – Carsten Schlüter and Juri Müllerare – are assigned to meet a body language specialist to train for grooming, appearance, gestures, and breaking into a closed conversation, they are not impressed. At the stand in the courtroom, the duo realizes the significance of everything that was taught to them. They bring the lessons into practice with some benefit.

Communication is an exchange of information between two or more parties. It breaks down when there is no interchange of ideas. A strong verbal communicator can dominate and influence the entire course of a discussion and hence the decisions. It is important to imbibe the skills of effective communication. This implies being able to get one’s words across and also understanding the body language and psyche of the communicator. It is also imperative to convey one’s stance with gestures and expressions of confidence. Being poised and impressive is beneficial to add weight to the matter being expressed.

Presentations are an important communication tool. Experts in any field are so engrossed in the intricacies that they find it hard to break it down to the basics. As a technical communicator, I see this in the field of information technology also. The subject matter experts want every bit of information documented. The users want to know only what enables them to complete simple actions. The technical communicator bridges this gap and how – by sieving through the information and using plain, simple, minimalistic language, supported by graphics to convey the essentials. A similar scene plays out in the courtroom where the expert who explains the technical jargon through a simple diagram and in easy to infer terms, sways the jury in their favor. 

Knowledge is impactful only when it is communicated and presented in the language of the users. Recognizing the personas of your target audience to bring out intricate information in the most relatable content and style is the only way to nail it. Keep it simple, keep it smart. Present it plainly, convey it confidently. This remains an effective mantra for the effective communicator.

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