December can be an especially nerve-wracking month at work, not only because the year is ending but because the winter holiday season can create extra stress and unpleasantness — even between co-workers.
Some people celebrate holidays at this time of year, some people don’t and everybody has their own feelings and expectations about the end-of-year period. Some people are excited about it, and others aren’t.
During December people can easily stumble over appropriate seasonal greetings, sentiments and terminology. There is constant risk of awkwardness around socializing, gift-giving and even cubicle decoration.
Here are ten new “rules” to follow during the holiday season, to preserve harmony (and sanity) on your team!
1. Please don’t shove your kids’ fundraising candy sales down your co-workers’ throats. Your colleagues may adore you and your children but they may already know where every penny of their holiday budget is going. If you want to promote your kid’s fundraising cookie sale, put up a poster in the break room. Don’t sell people at their desks. No one should have to fend off sales pitches at work.
2. Please don’t try to drag anyone to your holiday service, pageant or concert. Everybody is overbooked in December. Do not put anyone in the awkward social position of having to make up a conflict to save them from your holiday service, pageant or concert. If you make people aware of your outside-of-work performances and gatherings and they want to go, they will let you know.
3. Don’t force your employees to go to the company holiday party if they don’t want to. If you have a party during work hours, give your employees the opportunity to go home early or get some shopping done instead of sticking around for merriment if they’re not into it. If the party is after work hours, ditto.
4. Don’t get drunk at your company’s holiday party. This one is obvious but people still do it.
5. Don’t make your employees participate in Secret Santa activities if that’s not their cup of tea. Nobody should be forced into any “fun” workplace activity, because the minute they are forced to participate it’s not fun anymore. I love a cookie exchange as much as the next person but I want to be invited to join in — not compelled to.
6. Don’t give your boss a holiday gift. It’s nice of you to think of doing that but it puts your boss in an awkward position. Get a sweet potted plant for the office, instead!
7. Respect the fact that not everybody gets into the holiday spirit, or wants to. Some people have a tough time around the holidays. It is fun to be merry and festive at work but it’s even more important to be sensitive to everyone around you.
8. Remember to thank your co-workers, vendors and customers for their support over the past year. It’s amazing how a tiny word of thanks can brighten someone’s day.
9. Give everybody the benefit of the doubt in December. We are all carrying a heavy load. The end of the year can be chaotic and stressful even for happy-go-lucky people. Don’t assume that someone used the wrong holiday greeting to offend you — that’s highly unlikely. Think the best of everyone. That’s the only way to stay cool and calm yourself when things get hectic!
10. Finally, be good to yourself. It is easy to over-commit, overextend yourself and criticize yourself as the year comes to a close. Take a moment and remember all the good things you accomplished, learned, experienced and discovered in 2017. You are a superstar, whether you admit it or not — celebrate your awesomeness for a minute, before you dive into 2018!
Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns. Liz’s book Reinvention Roadmap is here.