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Why You Shouldn’t Fear Polarity

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

When discussing the three C’s of connection in the other blog we touched on the subject of polarity. Although the focus was on commonality, it’s also important to realise that polarity is not always a negative and can be just as important as commonality, only that commonality is a strong start to workers relationships. Polarity thinking helps us to understand that in most cases there is no right or wrong, especially in more opinionated and emotional matters, with this modern mindset we are able to accept that both sides can have an equal amount of positive and negative points which proves neither is right or wrong, they solely have different opinions which can be a good bonding experience, as they say, “opposites attract”.

Elsevier states “Like yin and yang, polarities are interdependent values that support each other” in the same way that commonality can bring us together, so can our polarities, as long as we have the right approach. The first step would be to remain open-minded at all times, differences can definitely seem off-putting at first since we find a lot of comfort in our similarities, but there is so much to learn and develop from bonding well with someone who has different views, strategies, goals, or hobbies to ourselves.

One of the most commonly seen types of polarity is the want for individuality, especially at work. Employees want to stand out, showing their best efforts, hardworking skills and bright new ideas. Although there is plenty of comfort within same thinking teams who follow structure, the excitement and fast-paced individual thinking with new ideas can put a great spark amongst teams Ideas will bounce from one another and if managed correctly will end with one bright idea, containing as much from the varying suggestions as possible. This may seem like a mild form of polarity since conflicting ideas should be expected during team meetings, but quite often if not managed correctly these differences can lead to disagreements quite quickly. There is no need to fear this type of polarity once having learnt to manage differences between employees and lead productive conversations.

Another form of polarity is the pursuing-distancing type, in which different people will establish different levels of connection they are happy with reaching with fellow co-workers. Some people are more drawn to keeping strictly professional relationships that barely reach surface-level emotional attachment, whereas others may want to bond a little further to create meaningful connections within their establishment. Understanding a good balance of emotional proximity will help you create better working teams as well as be able to create the right connections yourself. In any relationship, emotional proximity will always work best when flexible, for example, if a co-worker is suddenly having a difficult time they may need deeper emotional proximity than established before in order to cope well at work. Everyone’s boundaries will be different but again, let’s not fear polarity as it is always an opportunity to learn and grow, test the waters by changing your set pursuing-distancing levels and seek the positives it can bring you.

When embracing polarity you’ll begin to see two seemingly opposing values that can complement each other when applied in a balanced way instead of two differences that need to be resolved before a disagreement breaks out. When fearing polarity we essentially avoid all differences even though the difference is what makes us truly human. Sometimes an opposing opinion being pointed out is what's needed in order to make your own thoughts or ideas stronger or will show you what you need to work on in order to improve. Seeing the flaws in our plans can sometimes be difficult, so a fresh set of eyes or ears that won't shy away from giving constructive criticism is a highly valued trait to have amongst all employees. In the workplace, polarity will also be able to highlight the morality within your set culture, this means what the establishment together deem right or wrong. Why is this important? You will most likely want the values of your business to match the values your employees also have so that they can further boost these values and stick to them. Polarity brings the ability to safely question these values when needed, although the business doesn't like change it will always be necessary and therefore conflicting opinions are also necessary to help us re-evaluate when things may need a change or may need to be strengthened. Stronger than this, polarity opens a space where there is technically no wrong answer where you "eliminate the world of wrong alternatives", with a good understanding of emotional intelligence we can come to realise that thoughts feelings and opinions are often subjective, our personal experiences, bias and learnings change how we see things compared to others meaning there is no right or wrong in many situations. Yes, there may be better and worse options, but on the surface level it is solely opinion, accepting this can make teamwork feel like a dream as you can empathise with others easier and will likely avoid a very black and white way of thinking. This can even help greatly with self-evaluating, being able to critique yourself to a good standard where you are able to find your own biases and such.


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As people operations and performance consultants, we work with your business to identify and improve performance gaps so that you can be more profitable and professionally develop your people. Over 12 years of expertise in people operations and performance with results to back it all up. Why settle for the average when there is a world of possibility when you know how to achieve it? Untapped potential - Let's go get it!


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