In this episode of Ctrl + Alt + Delete with Lisa Duerre™ – Make sure to lean in during these key moments in the episode:

[1:44] Research and history behind writing the book

[3:08] Creating a culture where freeing, calling out, or preventing the elephant in the room is the norm

[15:49] Missed opportunities to communicate our needs and be able to connect more deeply

[17:12] Design of the book for a neurodivergent brain

[22:56] Three kinds of avoidance: aggressive, fearful, conscious [22:56]

[26:58] What’s at stake when you’re afraid of loss

[38:46] The role of self-awareness and relationship communication

[42:15] Self-awareness, re-calibration and changing the question or reaction

[44:35] Impact of knowing your intended outcome before any conversation

[49:10] The difference between good intentions and shadow intentions

[53:32] How do you know if someone’s shadow intention is speaking?


  • Don’t Feed the Elephants is about the impacts of conflict avoidance and how to have deep meaningful relationships in ways that don’t feel uncomfortable.
  • Building on the work of Conversational Intelligence, “our success is dependent on our relationships, and our relationships are dependent on our conversations,
  • Sarah explores how we can have more intentional and thoughtful conversations with ourselves, with others, with our teams.
  • When we acknowledge an elephant is in the room, we have a choice to free it or feed it. When we allow an elephant to linger, distrust increases and trust decreases. Team members become disengaged and disheartened. Creativity and innovation cannot thrive.
  • Before any conversation, we need to know our intended outcome. Pausing before entering the conversation to gain self-awareness around the initial stress response, self-regulate, recalibrate, and show up as a better version of you, as a leader and as a human.
  • As a leader, it is important to realize you don’t get to decide if you are trustworthy; other people do. To build psychologically safe work cultures, leaders must build trust by being open to feedback, becoming curious about it, take action and follow through with their team. Choosing to free the elephant rather than feed it.

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