Q3 The Elephant in The Room

This quarter, our team took what we learned in research and decided what problem we wanted to tackle. We saw over and over again, that our research participants struggled to address problems in their lives. They avoid talking about it, trying to suppress and control their emotions until they couldn’t anymore.

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Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 2.21.58 PMI know a lot of us struggle to understand the best way to handle disagreements, especially with the people we’re closest to. This type of problem solving isn’t taught in school. We found some people who seek out counseling to learn how to have more productive relationships, but most avoided talking about negative feelings, maybe opening up an incognito browser and searching for “yelled at my sister, how do i fix it?” When people avoid confrontation because they fear losing control, they’re losing more by not addressing their frustrations. They’re losing time with the people they love. They’re losing the chance to build the life they want, and they’re losing their temper trying so hard to control their emotions.

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We created Elephant in the Room, an app that seeks to turn uncomfortable conversations into a chance to build deeper relationships.

Our program guides self-reflection, which helps users address the problems in their lives with more confidence.


We don’t seek to “solve” all personal conflict because… we don’t know what “solved” is. One person’s “solved” is another person’s “unacceptable.” Instead, we want to foster an environment of responsibility and understanding in relationships. We have been working to create something that’s playful, where the user feels like they’re making progress, and understanding the process without have to learn a bunch of “conflict resolution” jargon.  

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The app works by using a series of questions to prompt self-reflection about how you’re feeling and how the other person might be feeling. These reflections build on one another to create a guided practice that reframes what the user has entered in the self-reflection sections, and has them read back what they see onscreen to practice articulating their feelings. It gives users a plan for starting the conversation they’ve been avoiding. This moment was always stuck out during user testing, as if people’s feelings were being validated by the app.

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We know that not everyone will search to find an app to address their elephants. But, we know that people do seek help. Many of our participants have been to therapy. We know that people use tools to help them articulate what they’re feeling. One woman that we tested with used a “conflict wheel’ she got from church and was heartbroken to find she had lost it while in an argument with her mom. Next quarter, we plan to talk to counselors, therapists, and people who teach conflict resolution to get feedback and really focus on where this app would fit in the landscape.

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We also want to break down all the functions and find ways to test them individually. We hope to understand what’s really working and streamline the experience. We look forward to sharing what we find.