Humans are by default social creatures. In the workplace, we are usually part of a larger team and have to interact with other people. The ability to maintain harmony between fellow teammates can be a useful skill to have. However, where humans gather, conflict will follow. We are wonderfully diverse in our opinions and differences are bound to occur.
What do you do to resolve the differences in opinions? For me, at times, I do nothing.
Don’t get me wrong. Don’t mistake it for me being passive minded or indecisive. It is also not the case that I am unable to face conflict. Gallup states that people with the Harmony talent theme think that ‘there is little to be gained from conflict and friction, so they seek to hold them to a minimum’. I consider myself a very practical person and like to get things done. I therefore dislike it when conflicts and arguments get in my way of accomplishing that. From that perspective, I will only voice out my opinions when they are actively present a conflict with my personal values. The broad principle is that since we are all on the same boat, let us not rock it just to show that we can, since that may impede our progress.
Contributions and Weaknesses of Harmony
People with the harmony talent theme have an uncanny ability to sense when conflicts occur (even the invisible ones). That said, I find that the ability to do the above depends on one’s level of maturity.
People with an immature harmony theme may remove themselves from the conflict entirely because they are just not mentally equipped to handle such situations. I remember an instance in my teenage years where I was the only person between a bully and a victim in the classroom. I knew that the bully was in the wrong, but could not step up to break up the argument because I was afraid. Sure, there was that fear of being targeted myself, but I was not a scrawny kid. My immature harmony theme wanted me to avoid conflict at all costs instead of doing the right thing.
It was not until much later in life when I learnt that not every conflict should be avoided. By reading a number of self-help books and applying them in my working life, I learnt methods of resolving conflicts that do not involve direct confrontation, which I will elaborate below.
People with harmony theme can be seen as passive people who like to ‘sit on the fence’. Worse, when working with confrontational people they can easily be seen as pushovers.
To address these, I think it is essential to keep calm when provoked and remain objective when faced with opposing arguments. In an argument, each party thinks he or she is right and all others are wrong. Since you can be seen as the middle-ground, take advantage of this to build upon the consensus to move things forward.
HARMONY AT WORK
As a Leader / Employer
If you are the one with harmony theme, you are uniquely positioned to resolve conflicts and foster collaboration. As the leader, you are already conscious of the common goal that needs to be achieved, so be selective when engaging in conflict. Not all conflicts are bad, in fact, they can at times lead to breakthroughs in thinking! Only engage when you see the arguments becoming unproductive. As a side note, be ready to shield your employees who have the harmony theme when they come under attack. This can be done by setting certain rules in team discussions, such as ‘no personal attacks’ or ‘no interrupting when someone is speaking’.
As a Follower / Employee
You need to make sure the rest do not mistake your easy-going and consensus-driven nature as something they can exploit. For example, in my workplace I have seen many situations where someone pushes me to do a certain task that is ‘not within my job scope’. This creates conflict within me as I know that someone else should be responsible for that task. Instead of blindly agreeing, I push back by listing out the common points of agreement, that a) I am not the one who is supposed to be doing that task, and b) I would probably not complete it to the standards of the original person, since I am unfamiliar with the task.
THEME PAIRINGS FOR HARMONY
Some of the themes that pair well with Harmony are:
- Ideation. These are people who can think out of the box. It does not hurt to learn about additional perspectives and could be beneficial for your own learning.
- Competition. Their drive to triumph over others may be a constant source of frustration for you, but imagine how a team full of competitive people would be like? Your peacemaking ability will be key to maintaining a tightly knit group.
Overall Thoughts for Harmony
The truth is that having the harmony theme may not be seen as a strength in the workplace; personally I am still far from being extremely skilled at handling conflicts when they occur. I constantly remind myself that resolving conflicts tactfully is a better approach, even if it causes me short term discomfort. Completely ignoring the conflict serves to kick the can down the road which is counterproductive to the task at hand.