This is my spontaneous reflection on negativity, harmony, fear, confrontation and courage. Such an interesting thought process where I learnt a lot about my tendency of maintaining harmony, nonetheless, I quickly realized to support the system, creating transparency and sometimes facing the confrontation is essential. This also gave me insights into the dynamics of self-organization, the ability to deeply listen and reflect, to keep our ego in check and to have the courage to do the right thing even when it feels risky.
I had to jot down this article as I feel it seems the universe kept sending me signals that I need to apply in life. Recently I faced some challenges. Because of my tendency towards harmony I’ve never confronted this issue for 3 months. Yesterday 3 things happened.
- I’ve read into a word puzzle and the 3 words I got was self-care, purpose and breakthrough
- A wise leader shared his thoughts, something like “Negativity and anger can only be overcome by compassion and forgiveness”
- I came across a video showing a tall sailing boat passing a low bridge by tilting itself. No matter how much fear they had in the beginning, they confronted it with a seemingly risky move, and it worked out just fine.
This encouraged me to jot down, negativity, confrontation and courage. I’ve avoided a confrontation for 3 months because of harmony, or if I reflect a bit deeper, because of fear of the result of confrontation. I was hoping by sending out soft signals and firm answers it would trigger a change. It didn’t. It perhaps even triggered more misinterpretations.
Now I realized, to live of my values, to be wholehearted and fulfil my purpose. There is no way to avoid conflicts with the excuse of maintaining harmony. The harmony that is built on avoidance is not real. The undercurrent is always there.
As an OD practitioner and change agent, conflicts are not a rare thing. However, because I was involved in mainly mindset work, which requires to encourage, empower and inspire people to take ownership of their own paths, I haven’t faced many confrontations on the level of personal values and ethics. So indeed, such an experience is a valuable learning. What I find most helpful, is to have the intension of helping the system. Keenly aware of where ego might be at play, and always maintain the focus on the system at stake. The intervention coming from a positive intention can be confrontative, it can consume much energy, but with the intension of system in mind, I will be able to say, I’ve done the right thing even if that means uncomfortable situations.
As I grew up in China, my way of working was shaped heavily by the Chinese harmony-loving value. The peaceful way of life is deeply rooted. Life gave me an interesting turn as I met my husband who is from Germany and we lived there for some years. I’ve learnt a lot, especially the straightforward way of life. For sure I had a cultural shock, nonetheless, I quickly realized that bringing tensions up on the table and shine the light of transparency could solve the problem much quicker and efficient. Germans are not well known for their emotions, but they are well known for efficiency if things are organized well. Although this is not my intuitive way of dealing with business, I grew to get use to it. Recently things took an interesting turn again. Now I tease my husband occasionally, as we’re in Switzerland because of his initiative, I actually love here much more, just because culturally I feel much closer of harmony-loving in here than that in Germany.
Now reflecting back on this tension, when it gradually gained its way, it is also interesting to observe my own thought process. Every now and then, I ask myself, is that my ego trying to have a say? This reflection also gave me valuable insights about the dynamics when people work in self-organized systems, how individuals and groups deal with tensions. This is one of the reasons why self-organizing is hard. Because self-organization requires everyone in the system to be deeply self-reflective. Because there is no boss to put the authority hammer here and there, all members in the system need to listen deeply into the situation and to each other and reflect on his/her own tendencies behaviours in this process. Conflict resolution is absolutely important in self-organization. This is also why scrum masters, agile coaches are so important in such systems. To foster the community to create ground rules and bring such rules to light as the system is running itself.
As I saw this sentence “Negativity and anger can only be overcome by compassion and forgiveness” it immediately connected with me. I also realize that to be wholehearted and to create space for compassion, I also need to include whoever or whatever that may not be in the same bandwidth where I operate or am used to. Compassion has a broad reach, not only what’s around you and supporting you, but also reaching out to the difficult or unknown.
Dealing with such dynamics what I will make sure is I’ll always check: with what intension am I taking an action. To have the intension of helping the system; to have the courage to do the right thing; and to have the confidence that wholeheartedness always can connect people even when there are sharp conflicts. If not the least, it is a fantastic learning.