The myth of secret harmony in humans
We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we talked nonstop – and all we could do was go head-to-head with the other person. Communication, which we hoped would make things better, not only disappointed us, but also made matters worse.
A lot of people aren’t used to being strategic. We can reach this conclusion from the statistical studies of the National Institute on “Resolving Controversies”: 2%.
This ratio shows how many Americans actually think before responding during an argument. No wonder we sink as we speak. Without a good strategy in mind, we say whatever comes to mind.
So why do we act like this?
We may not realize it, but many Americans believe in what I call the “Myth of Hidden Harmony”: If we get to the root of the matter, we can agree. All it takes is for people to understand each other better. The commonplace is this: there is no disagreement: the point is that people don’t understand each other very well, that’s all.
In terms of human nature, this view sounds pretty good; because it is an optimistic view: a stubborn person is only prejudiced; so there is always hope! It will be easier to resolve the issue if you show the person what their bias is.
Undoubtedly, we have witnessed cases where this view has proved correct. But the myth of hidden harmony in humans generalizes too much. It offers two ways to resolve any issue:
- Listen to people with open ideas. In some cases, this notion is completely absurd. A friend of mine gave my favorite example: “There must be a logical reason why my boyfriend hasn’t called me for five weeks. Once I find out what the reason is, our relationship will be fine.”
- Express yourself clearly. This advice may not always be helpful, either. Can you imagine your boss clearly telling you, “I know you’ve been working here for five years and Linda is just a rookie. I’m promoting him for you because he works better than you. I hope you understand what I mean… No offense, no resentment, okay?” How wrong!
The myth of hidden harmony in humans has brought with it three rules. People who disagree:,
a) They should express their opinions honestly,
b) They should state their original intentions,
c) They should express their true feelings.
These may sound good. Being honest is definitely a good trait. If we share our true intentions with people, we’ll see how much we have in common. And, if we discuss and respect each other’s feelings, every job is settled, right?