Weekly Wisdom:  Discard discord

One of the worst obstacles to accomplishing anything in this life is discord.  In music, discord is a lack of harmony between notes.  Long story short, you know it when you hear it!

Between people, discord is lack of harmony as well:  simply put, discord is disagreement.

Not all of us are cut out to agree with others as a matter of course.  Some of us are contrarians by nature, more than willing to take the opposite point of view because…. We can.  Some of us feel compelled to play the devil’s advocate, regardless of the cost.  

Then again, some of us are capable of disagreeing in an agreeable fashion.  John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was renowned for this quality.  Jay spent much of his adult life in public service during tumultuous times and was engaged in numerous heated debates. Instead of hitting opponents head on, Jay hit the pause button rather than get into an argument.  One method Jay used to slow things was asking others to “please explain your position to me again, since I wish to understand it.” How can you lose your temper when someone else is trying so hard to not disagree?

How do we discard discord?  John Jay gives us the first step.  First, hit the pause button.  Do not take the bait, do not raise your voice, and do not give up on reaching agreement at the first sign of disagreement.  Finding common ground is rarely impossible, but is often difficult.  One thing we do know about discord is that left unresolved, it has a tendency to morph into something worse:  resentment.  Resentment often leads to something even worse:  grudges.  All of this can be resolved quickly and thoroughly by slowing things down and making maximum effort to find common ground.

Another method that helps to discard discord is to forego confrontation in favor of asking simple questions.  If you find yourself in a disagreement, ask simple, open-ended questions, such as “what led you to that conclusion?” Another method is to agree to a point, expressing agreement as long as you can and disagreeing only when you must.  We all know people who we agree with 90-95% of the time, but we cannot agree with them on everything.  Once we are satisfied that we have tried our best to reach agreement, both of us should be able to walk away without hard feelings. 

Survey after survey of workplaces demonstrate that employees will not stay with employers who do not value them as individuals.  Disagreement is normal, especially when we are trying to change things in any way. Discord, however, is avoidable by taking immediate steps to discover where common ground can be reached, and the best way to accomplish that is by treating those who disagree with courtesy and respect, hearing out their concerns, and making every effort to find common ground as soon as possible.  Discord left untreated is a recipe for disaster. 

Do yourself and your organization a favor.  Discard discord today.