Four Ways to (Politely) Pummel Harmony

mask morgueFile free photo claritaAs I continue my focus on the word “harmony” in 2013, I’ve been thinking about behaviors that look like harmony-producers but in reality are harmony-busters. They seem innocuous enough, perhaps even helpful. But over time, they can do more harm than good.

Here are a few I’ve observed (and there are many more). Maybe you can add some others:

  • Pain- avoidance: The friend whose brother is snarky to her for reasons she has not figured out. He competes with her in every arena, no matter how small or unimportant. He baits her to get a strong reaction and then if she responds, he belittles her in front of friends or family members. If she is with him and manages not to break any of the eggshells she’s walking on, she is relieved. But that’s not harmony.
  • Politeness: The group of women who have shared their lives for years, but lately have become sloppy about their relationships. They show up late for scheduled get-togethers or even back out at the last minute. If they say they’ll do something to prepare for the next meeting, maybe they will, maybe they won’t. They sometimes miss an opportunity to be supportive of each other in a crisis because life is just too busy. They think they’re doing the loving thing by not mentioning this growing carelessness, but that’s not harmony.
  • Passive-aggressiveness: The husband who is weary of arguing with his wife about every little thing. She longs for him to engage with her and he rankles at what he perceives as her neediness. He takes on extra projects at work and then joins a fitness center “to lose some weight and get in shape”. If challenged, he says he’s just keeping the peace. After all, if he’s not home, they can’t argue. But that’s not harmony.
  • Placating: The roommate who hates conflict, so she lets the others she lives with leave a mess in the kitchen every night and skip their turn at cleaning the common areas. She figures if she’s the one it bothers, she should be the one who handles it. Lately, she has had to pick up the slack on delinquent utility bills and make sure the rent is paid on time, even though she has to front the money herself. It’s really starting to bug her but she’s “going along to get along”. That’s not harmony.

Sometimes we kid ourselves. We get really busy so we won’t have to deal with the deeper relational issues; we put on a mask of politeness and pretend things are fine; we even clench our jaw and do stuff we’d really rather not.

And we think we’re doing it all in the pursuit of harmony.OneWord2013_Harmony150

Politicians call this “kicking the can down the road” – we get through it for now, but we’re going to pay later.

That’s not the kind of harmony I’m looking for, how about you? 

Have you observed any other harmony-busting behaviors? How are they hurtful? Feel free to share in the comments.

About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

6 thoughts on “Four Ways to (Politely) Pummel Harmony”

  1. Diane, I think you are bang on with these. On the other end of the spectrum (probably less frequent though) are those who always want to clear the air. I have seen people use that as a way to assert power.

    1. Wow, I hadn’t thought of that – that’s an excellent point. I can definitely see “clearing the air” as a power play masquerading as something purportedly helpful. Sadly, I can think of people in my acquaintance who do this and it taps into a not very harmonious part of me. Thanks for this insight, Allen!

Your feedback is welcome!