As the beginning of the holiday season is upon us, it is easy to stay wrapped up in business affairs, to worry about the bottom line, to grumble about vacationers who have left the skeleton crew to pick up deadlines, or complain about another potluck with too many sides and not enough mains.
For retail, this season can be at the heart of making an annual income that supports the rest of the coming year. The pressure is on, all starting with Black Friday and lasting through New Year’s clearance sales. It’s a frenzy of spending and earning.
But for the sake of the season, take a step back, and remember.
Remember that the barrista behind the counter may be pulling her second shift and it’s been “rush hour” all day long. Leave a tip, look her in the eye, smile, and say a sincere thank you.
Remember that the sales clerk at your favorite big box store may be missing the big family feast because he had no real choice in the matter, and he’s exhausted because he had to work through the night to stock the shelves. Don’t yell at this person. Don’t talk on your phone while he’s ringing up your stuff or act all huffy when he has to put in a new roll of receipt paper. Be kind to him—tell him a joke—and say thank you.
Remember that grouch in the office who humbugs every holiday with a bad attitude. They may have more pains and worries and troubles than you can possibly begin to imagine. I worked with one such guy—he never seemed to crack a smile and headed for the door at the stroke of 5 with nary a goodbye. He never took vacation and he was always the anchor of every holiday skeleton crew. Your office grouch may be prickly as a form of self-defense, and he may never reveal anything personal about himself. But say thank you to that guy, anyway, for pulling those skeleton crew shifts. Take him to lunch. Give him a silly mug. Sing him a round of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Let him know he matters.
Remember that you may have co-workers who, even though they may be smiling and toasting good cheer with everyone else, find the holidays to be difficult. In a rough economy parents worry about gifts. Holidays make people remember those who are no longer with us. Holidays remind us of what we do not have, even as we get more stuff to fill the spaces in our homes. Give out hugs, sincerely ask people how they are, offer your time to any friends who may have lost a loved one in the past year just to talk, and remember that they might need a shoulder to lean on.
Remember to take care of yourself. It’s easy to get stressed out with all of the to-do lists of things to finish at work before the holidays come, the meals to cook, the presents to buy (and wrap and ship), the shopping to do…it can become its own frenzy that makes work all the more overwhelming. Step back and breathe. Hit your office mates up for a genuinely relaxing lunch or happy hour one day, just spending time together as people—no “shop talk” allowed. Or just take some time for yourself. Take a long lunch. Get a massage. Sneak off to see a movie one afternoon. Remember to keep it all in perspective. It’s supposed to be a time of thankfulness and joy. Don’t let the trappings of work or business or “stuff” get in the way.