This is the second in a five-part series on Strengths Finder, a fantastic resource from Gallup that helps people realize their strengths. Our culture seems obsessed on exposing our flaws and weaknesses and how we can “improve” by altering or even reversing those traits. But Strengths Finder is all about uncovering your innate strengths and building those virtues. On the heels of my #1 strength, INTELLECTION, the journey continues with my #2 strength: HARMONY.
It wasn’t at all shocking when Strengths Finder told me my #2 strength was harmony. Similar to intellection, I guess I’ve just never thought of my affinity for peace as a “strength,” per say.
And yet the more I’ve stepped into community — in recent years since moving west, especially — harmony has shaped a vital cornerstone of my existence. I simply cannot stand conflict. Can’t watch the news anymore, can’t stomach relational arguments, and certainly can’t read YouTube’s comments section.
Welcome to my tranquil world of HARMONY. Please admire the harpist and bubble machine as you float inside this post.
HARMONY: What It Is
According to Strengths Finder, someone with the strength of harmony “look[s] for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict.” They, instead, “seek areas of agreement.”
But who cares about standard dictionary definitions? I personally ADORE the Strengths Finder book’s hilarious yet apt description of harmony:
You can’t quite believe how much time is wasted by people trying to impose their views on others…we are all in the same boat, and we need this boat to get where we are going. It is a good boat. There is no need to rock it just to show that you can.
THIS IS A GOOD BOAT, GUYS. A GOOD BOAT!
Comical nautical metaphors aside, harmony resonated as a strength — my strength — in deeper, more meaningful ways. Eye-opening, heart-opening ways. Ways like:
- I listen well; I have the ability to bring people together.
- I am practical; I help others see the same basic values.
- Others reach out to me in conflict; I feel valued at their intentional gestures.
These things may seem like simple facts of life, but to me, they are life. They are proof that my introverted, often secluded existence is meant to be lived outward. Lived beyond my own hollow shell.
There are people living in other neighboring shells, too. People in conflict; people out of harmony. People coming to me for help.
I come alive when someone approaches me seeking more harmony in their lives.
And yet, gosh, that also terrifies me.
I’m going to divulge a memory with y’all — a fairly painful memory, actually. So please, bear with me.
I once had a good friend — a really good friend. We were super close. This person easily crossed the upper echelon of closest friends I’ve ever had in 26 years.
You might guess where this unfortunate story is going.
Eventually, our friendship hit a wall. A really difficult one. Various conflicts emerged and, truthfully, I didn’t know what to do or how to handle the rocky relationship anymore. My affinity for harmony kept rearing its beautiful-though-passive head, and I kept sweeping messy complicating issues under the rug.
– until the rug was effectively clogged, that is. Dust and dirt and metaphoric spores of some nasty sort filled that rug. Our friendship hit a critical max moment that required either one side to chill with the conflict or the other side (me) to address the conflict head-on.
Neither happened; the friendship died.
It’s a sad and depressing story, I know, and I promise I’m not a spiteful person. I hold no present grudges toward this person. I’ve learned so much from this failed friendship, and I’m certain my current friendships are all the healthier due to this one sickly relationship.
But the point remains: I cannot survive with conflict in my life. It chokes my very existence. I mean, nobody “likes” conflict; I guess I just “feel” it more than most.
Which leads me to this final, intimidating point on harmony.
HARMONY: Moving Forward
As with intellection, one particular point of my Strengths Finder action plan left me somewhat burdened:
Practice your techniques for resolving conflict without confrontation. Without these polished techniques, you might find yourself simply running away from conflicts, leaving them unresolved. This could lead you to passive-aggressive behavior.
I am such a passive-aggressive machine sometimes. It’s awful. I despise conflict so bitterly, and as was the case in that aforementioned friendship, I will avoid the issue for as long as possible just so we don’t have to address the stupid thing:
I will pretend to enjoy your presence; I will pretend to laugh at your jokes; I will pretend to “pray for you.”
I will ignore you; I will let your phone call go to voice-mail; I will be “too busy” to hang out — “too busy” to even text.
It’s such a perfect short-term strategy: keep the harmony alive by ignoring any/all junk. Avoiding the issue produces a temporary harmony for the shared relationship and harmony for my own individual soul.
But over time, junk festers; junk festers exponentially.
I’ll admit, I’m still very much a work-in-progress when it comes to addressing and progressing past conflict. I want to be known as someone who doesn’t run from his problems, be they in relationships or otherwise.
And I — gulp — want to step boldly into this role of “peacemaker.” Even though the thought of entering any world of conflict terrifies me to no end, I do feel that tug. That tug to reach out when my reclusive nature beckons me otherwise.
My last couple years of living in California community has taught me more and more about the importance of communication and accountability. Of tackling conflict rather than fleeing it.
May this second self-discovery step in Strengths Finder guide me further along this vital course.
HARMONY QUIZ: On a scale from 1-7, 7 being Ruler of Resolution and 1 being QUICK RUN AWAY, how well do you deal with conflict? Do you have any tips for addressing hard “issues” in your relationships?Wanna wander further? Follow me on Twitter and join my mailing list for a free 5-chapter excerpt of STRUGGLE CENTRAL, my first book, now available in paperback.