Overcoming Avoidance to Navigate Emotionally Charged Conversations

Presented on: September 27th at 12:00 PM EDT

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The strongest teams are those that have an elevated level of psychological safety and are highly adaptive. They can ask questions, take risks, be able to fail, and disagree. There is a commitment to constant experimentation and evolution. Great teams do not happen by chance - they are built by choice.  

But what if people aren’t able or don’t know how to engage in honest conversations that are candid, compassionate, and curious? Then the room fills with avoidance, and elephants start to take up space. Now our teams are not only avoiding conflict but connection as well. To overcome our avoidance of the problem, we need to be able to have conversations, even when they are uncomfortable. Building on the practices outlined in her book “Don’t Feed the Elephants,” Sarah Noll Wilson will introduce the Curiosity First Approach to help us increase ownership, have kind and candid conversations, and build more powerful partnerships. 

By the end of our time together, we will: 

o        Identify common avoidant behaviors and human factors that drive them 

o        Examine when avoidance may be appropriate and necessary 

o        Discover different “elephants” that can emerge  

o        Uncover best practices for regulating emotions in yourself and others 

o        Explore and apply the Curiosity First Model of Coaching 



About the speakers: Sarah Noll Wilson is an Executive Coach, an in-demand Keynote Speaker, Researcher, Contributor to Harvard Business Review, and Bestselling Author of “Don’t Feed the Elephants.” Sarah helps leaders close the gap between what they intend to do and the actual impact they make. She hosts the podcast “Conversations on Conversations,” is certified in Co-Active Coaching and Conversational Intelligence, and is a frequent guest lecturer at universities. In addition to her work with organizations, Sarah is a passionate advocate for mental health.   




Dr. Teresa Peterson is the Director of Learning and Development for Sarah Noll Wilson, Inc. Teresa is passionate about applying best practices for learning to make development experiences meaningful, engaging, and accessible for all types of learners. In her role, Teresa co-creates powerful learning content and guides deep research. Teresa holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of Northern Iowa and brings over twenty years of experience teaching, facilitating, and leading. She is trained in Immunity to Change Coaching and Certified in Appreciative Inquiry.  Clients love Teresa’s grounded energy, depth of thought, and ability to listen deeply.