If you go to YouTube and search for "vintage Coke commercial," the first one to come up is from 1971: "I'd like to buy the world a home, and furnish it with love …" and the earnest young singers continue: "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony …"
While that old commercial may seem a bit cheesy to many of us, those with Harmony among their Signature Themes get it: The world would be a better place if we all just got along. Harmony is more interested in what we have in common than what our differences are; in what unites us rather than what divides us.
One individual with strong Harmony talents said, "I am a 'friction reducer.' Friction heats us up, slows us down and wears us out." Harmony finds the common ground, finds areas where we can all agree, moves forward. For Harmony, conflict is unproductive. The sooner we can find agreement, Harmony asserts, the sooner we can move on and make progress.
Harmony: Helps and Hinders
When you coach those with Harmony in their Top 5, helping them claim both the "helps" and the "hinders" of the theme is critical to productive aiming. Some common helps and hinders of Harmony include:
- You are good at bringing others together, helping them see that what they have in common is more powerful than their differences.
- You have a natural ability to sense areas of potential conflict. This allows you to step in and find solutions to conflict before it gets out of hand -- before the molehill becomes a mountain.
- You are a practical thinker and can focus on the most basic, fundamental issues that need to be addressed. You can keep your team grounded in reality.
- Because you look for common ground, others feel valued, respected and heard when they are working with you on a project.
- You naturally do not like conflict and may tend to leave problems unaddressed, hoping that in time they will just go away so you don't have to deal with them. Sometimes, the sooner you deal with a problem, the faster and easier it is resolved -- thus restoring the harmony.
- Your focus on the practicalities of life my cause others to see you as lacking creativity or as unwilling to take risks that might upset the status quo. When a conversation turns to, "What if …," don't be too quick to pull it back to reality. A little dreaming every now and then can be quite productive.
- Your easygoing nature and desire to get along may lead others to see you as wishy-washy and afraid to take a stand. Instead of being seen as one who will "keep the peace at all costs," strive to be known as one who will "make peace at all costs." Be a proactive negotiator of fair and amicable resolutions to messy problems.
- Because your natural inclination is toward conflict resolution, you may tend to reach for the easy solution rather than the best, most lasting one. Resist the temptation to put a Band-Aid on a situation that requires surgery.
Harmony: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation
In order to productively aim Harmony -- or any -- talents at a particular goal, an individual must have: 1) self-awareness about the theme's power, edge and vulnerabilities; 2) an understanding of how the theme finds expression in day-to-day thinking, feeling and behaving; and 3) knowledge of how to regulate the theme to maximize the potential positive outcomes that can be realized through intentionally applying a strengths-based approach. Coaches can help clients with strong Harmony talents by exploring the following:
- The Power and Edge of Harmony: Those with Harmony among their Signature Themes are practical people who strive to avoid emotional quagmires that can get in the way of progress. They bring people together, find equitable solutions and smooth the path.
- The Vulnerabilities of Harmony: With their often intense dislike of conflict, those strong in Harmony may tend to go for the quick fix -- and might avoid addressing problems entirely, hoping they will just "go away."
Coaches can assist clients in realizing and claiming the expression of Harmony by helping them explore instances in the past when this theme has been particularly useful. To facilitate this exploration, coaches can ask the following questions:
- What is the best team you've ever belonged to? How did your Harmony talents contribute to the success of the team?
- How have you helped colleagues in conflict find resolution?
- What has been your greatest success -- either at work or in your personal life? How did your Harmony talents contribute to that success?
- When have you recently seen the practical side of something? What was it -- and what was the outcome?
Self-Regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to amplify or accelerate a specific talent, or to soften or moderate that talent. For example, sometimes those with strong Harmony talents can be so averse to conflict that they avoid having difficult conversations with colleagues or with family members. In situations like this, a coach can help the client find other talents that might yield better results. Also, coaches can help clients explore different theme combinations. Because Harmony tends to be a reactive and practical theme, below are some possible combinations that will either activate or broaden Harmony:
- Themes that tend to activate Harmony: Achiever, Activator, Restorative, Maximizer, Woo, Belief
- Themes that tend to broaden Harmony: Ideation, Strategic, Deliberative, Positivity, Intellection, Includer
Harmony: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming
- What areas of your life seem "out of tune?" What will you do to make them harmonious again?
- How would you describe a great day at work? How do your Harmony talents contribute to those best days? How can you have more of those days?
- How do you know when to avoid conflict and when to resolve conflict?
- When you think about your customers -- both external and internal -- what do you do when you sense a possibly tense interaction? Whom do you partner with to help you in situations like this?
- Which people in your life need your special brand of practical encouragement? How can you reach out and help them achieve harmony?