This is what a frustrated elephant looks like.

Oh, he’s going to get angry, but if you watch the first 15 seconds, he looks frustrated and confused. Not being an elephant, I can’t say for sure.

Clearly the van represents something related to his reaction. He seems to watch the people around him and then reacts to the one with the most power, by charging the man with the stick. The rock throwing seems to irritate the elephant rather than move him away from anyone or calm him down. These people truly are ineffective. Fortunately for them, the elephant goes after the van. Interesting choice for the elephant given the van is just sitting there and all the humans are doing the pelting, stick swinging, and rope pulling. Maybe the elephant knows something about directed frustration.

The people involved, scared and wary, are clueless as to what should be done. They are action types, though – when in doubt, throw something, anything, regardless of its effect. What’s needed here is an “Elephant Whisperer” – someone who understands elephant psychology, the environment, and actions that will effectively mitigate the situation.

How many times have you been frustrated, confused, and not quite sure where to focus your emotions? Add to this an interaction with someone else and things usually get worse, because the other person does not know how to effectively alter the situation? Unwittingly, the tension escalates. Do you usually find a van or release your frustrations on those around you?

There are ways to resolve conflict in the work place without upping the ante. Effective resolutions require acknowledging emotions – not ignoring them – understanding the environment, analyzing your options, and judiciously using time. Sometimes the best action is to wait, watch, and think rather than react.