I love to talk and on occasion someone says something to me that's so striking that I cannot let it pass without writing about it. A friend of mine recently had her supervisor tell her that she creates a work environment that is too harmonious. I was so stunned by this comment that all I could do was laugh. And once that laughter subsided, I found the very core of this comment to be highly disturbing.
The American workplace right now, particularly in large corporations, is a tough place to be every day. Layoff rounds seem never ending and are referred to with a dizzying array of synonyms: "right-sizing", "restructuring", "displacement", "down-scaling", and the list goes on. At the end of the day a lot of very talented, bright, dedicated high performers are losing their jobs. Morale is low and bad behaviors abound as a result of fear, angst, and disappointment.
Layer all of these bad sentiments into my friend's situation. Despite the fact that morale is very low at her company and the environment there is like a pressure cooker these days, she has found a way to bring some sense of harmony to her team and her projects. And the feedback to her is she creates too much harmony?! If she were ineffective at her job and unable to get anything done, I could possibly understand the feedback though that is not at all the case. She's one of the highest performers in her department, due in large part to her ability to create winning strategies that are widely supported by others.
By saying please and thank you, and recognizing the hard work of her team she is being criticized by her boss who is unable to create any kind of good will due to his bad attitude and propensity for bullying. With all the anxiety in the world, we should welcome the contributions of people who can restore a sense of order and calm, particularly in the workplace. In the case of harmony, there can't be too much of a good thing.