Sharing Seasonal Cheer

Being mindful of the spiritual meaning of the holidays can be difficult amid the hustle and bustle. Yet, finding simple ways to share the seasonal spirit with co-workers can brighten someone’s day or warm a chilly office.

In our practice, we have found the little things people do for themselves and one another do matter. The smallest gestures by leaders and staff can make remarkable changes to the well-being and morale of the workplace.

To that end, we’d like to suggest 12 ideas to make staff’s workplace dreams come true. And while these may not be as elaborate as the gifts given by the true love of “Twelve Days of Christmas” fame, they still come from the heart.

1. Forgive a Work Mate
Sometimes people make mistakes, intentional or unintentional, that cause concern at work. You may feel your boundaries weren’t respected when a meeting was interrupted. Or maybe you felt let down because a co-worker didn’t pull his weight on a particular project. Forgiving someone who may have slighted us can contribute to a more collegial workplace. Recognizing everyone’s limitations can help in forgiving others and our selves.

2. Apologize to a Work Mate
Offering a sincere apology to a staff member whom we may have angered or hurt helps clear the air. Take responsibility for what you have control over and look at where you could improve. It is best to measure our success by how we treat others when under stress. Difficult interactions with others can bring out the worst. So apologize if that has happened to you.

3. Let go of a Grudge
Long after an incident happened, we can hang on to issues, peeves or hurts. Holding a grudge takes energy and keeps us bogged down ruminating over past disappointments. Staff sometimes believe holding a grudge will protect them from future hurts. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens. Instead, the person remains stuck with negative feelings. Letting go lightens the spirit.

4. Give Credit
Find a way to toot someone else’s horn. Take a second to appreciate another person’s specific contribution. It will make everyone happy and guards against taking co-workers for granted. Sharing the glory may seem counterproductive in a competitive workplace, but giving others credit for their role reflects well on everyone.

5. Thank a Work Mate
Express your gratitude. A thank-you note, or an e-mail, a kind voice mail or, better yet, a person-to-person thank you spreads holiday cheer. Being grateful taps our humility. It might be an ego boost to think we can do it by ourselves, but most successful people can point to a list of colleagues to whom they are truly grateful.

6. Catch Staff Doing The Job Right
Telling people you like the job they do and being specific about what is effective adds immeasurably to team spirit. Focusing on what staff does effectively is the best motivator.

7. Ask If You Can Help
This time of year it’s easy to get swamped with extra tasks. So find a way to help a colleague. Attempt to ease another’s load by asking how you could help or just roll up your sleeves and pitch in.

8. Add a Compliment to An E-mail
Write a job-related compliment in an e-mail today. Comment on a colleague’s presentation skills, efficiency or friendly demeanor on the phone. Find a positive skill, trait or ability that contributes to the workplace and that you admire. Tell that person about it.

9. Notice Staff Effort
Not every proposal, initiative or idea bears fruit. It is still important to notice the effort that went into the project. Staff may have put a lot of time and energy into an application, demonstration or presentation. Take time to tell them you saw the effort and how much it took to do the job.

10. Focus on Another’s Viewpoint
Look at an issue from the other person’s vantage point. Try to see it their way. People appreciate it when an effort is made to see things through their eyes. We also can learn a lot about ourselves. For example, may be your silence, is hard to read. Perhaps you might sound a bit critical or may be you are not being as frank as you could be.

11. Smile at Someone You Don’t Know
Share a smile with a stranger passing by or say “Hello” to an acquaintance at work, someone you see regularly but don’t greet. Your mood and the office mood could lighten when a smile given, is passed along.

12. Commit a Small Random Act of Kindness
Do something kind – anonymously – for another person. Don’t take credit or make a show of your effort. Give something simple that your work mate might enjoy: place a cup of tea on the desk, take on a small job, or find them some extra pens or supplies.

Have a safe, happy and holiday and New Year.

Dr. Jennifer Newman and Dr. Darryl Grigg are registered psychologists and directors of Newman & Grigg Psychological and Consulting Services Ltd., a Vancouver-based corporate training and development partnership. They can be contacted at

Identifying information in cases cited has been changed to protect confidentiality.

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