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Thanksgiving Harmony or Black Friday Competition

Certain pairs of talents naturally conflict with one another. These “Talent Colliders” can create quite a tension when they show up in two different people. Let’s focus on a pair of talents that can collide with one another during the holidays: Harmony and Competition.  

Those with Harmony look for ways to advance positive and cooperative interpersonal relationships. Compromise and consensus are tools Harmony employs to create environments of social acceptance and emotional alignment. They typically don’t enjoy conflict and if they do engage in it they will usually be the peacekeeper. One family member with Harmony loves to play games at holiday gatherings but that enjoyment is often ruined for her by a brother-in-law with Competition who loves to “smack talk” during any type of game.

Competition is in it to win it. It drives others to experience the exuberance of the win or to avoid the agony of defeat. They constantly measure their odds for success, victory or just not feeling “less than.” It can show up in sports, academics, finances, or any other form of accomplishment that can pit you against others or a measuring stick. My son with Competition was frustrated about his first job out of college, “My whole life I had a scoreboard or a GPA to tell me where I stood. I’m working for a company that gives no review of my performance or what I should be aiming for.” 

The potential for collision of these talents isn’t always obvious because Harmony would rather step back than stand in the path of conflict. It seeks common ground while Competition is comfortable on a battleground. Harmony is a peacemaker while Competition is a playmaker. “Get along” to Harmony is how people should always interact while Competition uses those words to move people or obstacles out of the way. “Work out” is something people with Harmony want people to do with issues or disagreements while it’s a routine people with Competition do to get in shape to kick someone else’s butt.

What we often miss with talent collisions is that they can also complement one another when intentionally working together. Competition wants to mobilize others to up their game to bring out their best to overcome the opposition in their work or personal pursuits. Harmony brings a depth of cohesion that bonds a group tighter together. That unity gives a team a competitive edge that Competition alone cannot bring when things get tough. Without some form of Harmony, Competition can feel like a win at all costs experience. 

On the flip side, Competition knows that a certain amount of pain will result in gain. A caterpillar in a cocoon needs to struggle to free itself from its shell in order to develop the strength it needs in its newly formed wings to fly. If a curious child breaks open the cocoon prematurely, the butterfly cannot fly. In the same way stress is essential for butterflies to thrive, Harmony can learn that healthy Competition leads to quicker resolutions and a group that plays and fights nicely together. 

Anyone can see the problem of talents colliding with one another. But when we go the extra mile to see how they can complement and complete each other, we can create even stronger relational and team dynamics. It is that perspective that can turn talent grating into strength gratitude.


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