The workplace is a microcosm of society, bringing together people from all walks of life and varying experiences and identities. Discordance is about having different viewpoints and disagreements on a given issue, which is not unusual, but when individuals react versus respond to differing opinions, the workplace climate can become testy, stressful, and even toxic.
Factors influencing workplace discordance
The lingering effects of the pandemic, sociopolitical global conditions, the recent U.S. elections, economic uncertainties, and relationship upsets with family and friends are some of the contributing factors to discordance. These are emotional issues, ones not readily resolved through opinion-sharing but ones for which individuals may have strong feelings. Discordance expressed at work upsets everyone’s well-being. Unchecked comments can heighten disagreements and lead to hurt feelings. These behaviors can be stressors and hot buttons affecting interpersonal relationships, productivity, and the desire to be at work. At time, peers turn on one other with their frustrations. Information overload through social media, and discontent with non-work matters. This is called displacement. Rather than manage personal upsets, individuals displace these feeling on to others at work.
Behaviors contributing to workplace discordance
In addition to displacement, there are other defenses that may be used to protect ourselves from workplace stress, frustration, and other feelings not readily resolved. In brief, these common defenses are blaming, denial, repression of feelings, projecting out feelings on to others, and rationalization. Additionally for self-protection, individuals may also self-isolate, not being open to social engagements. Individuals may also withdraw at work and disengage, refusing to participate with others in a collaborative way. People can also freeze and become nonresponsive. (
How to manage personal discordance
Recognize feelings of frustration and stress and what might be contributing to your upset.
- Talk to a trusted co-worker or friend about the situation (s) that are creating discordance.
- Do not personalize.
- Check your filters—are the disagreements occurring a priority for you?
- Walk away if the dynamics are too toxic.
In the midst of discordance, take the time to center yourself on a daily basis.
- Engage in planned physical activity—stretching, deep breathing, walking, yoga, and so forth.
- Journal: On a daily basis, in the morning, write down three things you are grateful for and three affirmations for the day. This places a positive focus on the start of the day.
- Inspirational readings: Find a book with daily readings. These readings can also set you off to a positive start.
- Meditation and one minute visualizations can help reduce stress in the moment
Workplaces are organizations where people come together with opportunities to enhance career opportunities, learn from one another, and also have social engagements they might not have outside of their work life. No work setting is perfect, however. Thus, our personal attitudes about workplace expectations need to be acknowledged. Not everyone has the same expectations for positive relationships nor the norms for communications that I have. I have to recognize these differences and make certain, I do not consider these obstacles to my personal workplace engagements.