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Olive branch? 橄榄枝

中国日报网 2022-01-07 11:48


Reader question:

Please explain “Olive branch” in this sentence: We offered the olive branch, trying to put the quarrel behind all of us.

My comments:

Olive branch is the universally recognized symbol for peace and reconciliation. So, “we” offered the proverbial olive branch to show that we no longer want the quarrel, whatever that’s about, to drag on.

Instead, “we” want peace. Let’s forget it and move on.

Apparently, here, a quarrel or confrontation occurred some time ago, leading to continued hostility between two groups of people, affecting many.

Now, after a time, “we” finally decided to be the first to show the other group that we want peace. Hopefully, the other side, if they’re as tired of the quarrel as we have been, will seize the opportunity to reciprocate, showing us some good will as well.

Then, we can move on, and all of us will live happily in harmony ever after.

Something like that.

Now, the “olive branch” as a symbol for peace and harmony comes from the ancient Greeks. And the Christian Bible helped popularize it. This explanation, from WhatChristiansWantToKnow.com (What Does The Olive Tree or Olive Branch Symbolize In The Bible?):

The olive branch has been a symbol for a very long time and not just for those in the Bible. In the fifth century BC the Greeks were already using it for a symbol of peace. In biblical accounts, extending an olive branch meant the ending of hostilities between two parties and signaled the end of the conflict. The United Nations flag contains an olive branch for this very purpose; to end all hostilities between waring nations or those facing confrontation but it’s also found on many of the nation’s symbols, like in the 1885 Great Seal of the United States. After the flood of Noah’s day, he first sent out a raven (Gen 8:6-7) but then Noah “sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him” (Gen 8:8-9). After another seven days, “again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth” (Gen 8:10-11). That was a sign of peace…God would later promise to never send another flood to destroy man and all the other creatures.

There you go. Both the dove and the olive branch stand for peace and good will.

All right, a few examples of the proverbial olive branch in recent media:

1. All great companies have leaders who practice extreme ownership. This means that they demonstrate excellent self-accountability and take responsibility for the behavior, success, or failures of others around them. They see how everything and everyone interconnects and accept that what they do will influence the entire team. The best of the best, however, have created cultures that encourage extreme ownership in everyone. As remote work becomes more and more accepted, this mindset will be essential. You will no longer be able to interact and keep tabs on everyone in traditional ways. If you’re worried about your team’s capacity for more responsibility, be proactive and help them improve.

Employees who are struggling with responsibility aren’t necessarily incapable of holding themselves and others accountable. They might genuinely care about the organization and just be unsure how to turn that concept into an actionable practice. What’s missing is a go-to behavior that will demonstrate their willingness to fix problems and get the ball rolling.

The simple solution here is to self-examine and ask questions like:

“What did I do wrong?”

“How can I improve?”

“Did I do something to upset you?”

“What can I do to fix this?”

“How could I have done more or better?”

However it’s phrased, this act of reflection leads to better communication and accountability. If you integrate it into your leadership, team members will look to you and learn. Besides this benefit, you should notice individual advantages, too. If you take time to assess your weakest areas, slip-ups, and relationships with others, those faulty spots get stronger.


This strategy requires you and your direct reports to check your egos at the door. This may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar to some people, especially those who feel “being wrong” will hurt them somehow. Allowing yourself to be open for feedback is not an easy thing.

So, don’t be surprised if people on your team need more time to get used to extreme ownership. If you are persistent and celebrate the positive results of those interactions, employees will eventually understand the power of admitting an error.

Once people are willing to ask what they did wrong, the next step is practicing active listening. It’s another difficulty to tackle, as often the first instinct is to get defensive or try to justify every action. If you see this happening, step in and offer some formal training on active listening. Offer some strategies and guardrails for staying focused and empathetic during conversations.

Extreme ownership will only get more important as people have more options for how, when, and where to work. Reaching out with thoughtful questions provides an actionable olive branch, so you can resolve conflicts and find real solutions to what went wrong. The more you do this, the more your team will see it’s OK to seek feedback and be open to coaching.

- How To Increase Employee Responsibility — Regardless of Where you’re Working, Entrepreneur.com, November 24, 2021.

2. KATE, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William appear set to offer an olive branch to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry this Christmas.

The royal couple will “of course” buy Christmas gifts for the children of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, despite the reported rift between the two households, a royal expert has claimed. In the couple’s controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry said there was “space” between himself and William.

And on a trip to South Africa the previous October, Harry said he and William were on “different paths at the moment”.

He added: “I will always be there for him as I know he will always be there for me.”

Royal expert Katie Nicholl, author of ‘Harry and Meghan: Life, Loss, and Love’, claimed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge plan to give gifts to the whole family, including their nephew and niece.

She told OK! Magazine: “Yes, of course [they will send presents].

However, despite the olive branch, it is thought that the Sussexes will spend the holidays in their home in California.

- Kate and William to offer olive branch to Meghan and Harry with Christmas move, DianaLegacy.com, December 6, 2021.

3. During a recent interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, Dwight Howard addressed his forever feud with Shaquille O’Neal. Howard doesn’t care about the Superman nickname.

The never-ending rift between Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal is not alien to public knowledge. The Big Diesel has despised Howard’s comparisons to him. The two big men share a very similar trajectory in their respective careers.

Both Howard and O’Neal were drafted by the Orlando Magic and moved to the LA Lakers. Many analysts and pundits believed both the centers had a similar way of playing the game. However, there was no doubt that Shaq was a much more accomplished and dominant player than Howard.

Shaq detested Howard’s comparison to him. However, matters got worse when fans started to address Howard as Superman, courtesy of the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest, something O’Neal took offense to. The nickname Superman is very close to Shaq. The three-time Finals MVP even has a Superman emblem on his cars and a tattoo on his arm.

Howard recently stated that he would like to have a conversation with Shaq. The former Slam Dunk contest winner did a hilarious impression of Shaq, talking about their rift.

Below are a few excerpts from the conversation.

“It’s like every time something goes on it seems like he has an issue with me, or he’s talking bad about me. For me, it’s like ‘I don’t care about no Superman name. It’s just a name and there are so many people around the world who carry that name and it should be bigger than just what you do on the basketball court. How you live your life, how you treat people, how you carry yourself. Your character. To me, that’s Superman, and that ‘S’, it stands for hope. It was nothing to do with Shaq. Nothing to be like him or anything like that.” said the three-time DPOY.

“But if a guy wants to be like me, I’m welcome to it. Like hey man, let me help you out. Let me show you what I did to get to where I’m at and hopefully you can take it to the next level. So I would love to sit down and have a conversation with him.

“I always tell people, Shaq is the most dominant player to ever play. So I always give him his props. I would never disrespect him. But, for me, I love to have fun and joke, just like he does. So that’s why I wanna have a conversation like ‘hey bro, we supposed to be like this.”’

In what it seems, Howard has extended the olive branch to Shaq. However, one hopes these Lakers veterans resolve their issues.

- “I don’t care about no Superman name, It was nothing to do with Shaq”: Dwight Howard addresses his feud with Shaquille O’Neal, extending an olive branch, TheSportsRush.com, December 11, 2021.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣  编辑:丹妮)


Honest to goodness? 真诚


Stick to his guns? 坚守阵地


Lie low? 低调


Giving him pause? 令人踌躇


Frontal attack? 正面进攻

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