Once you see the first pumpkin you know its fourth quarter and all eyes are on the goal. Just notice if you’re breathing in short, little gasps, if you start to dream about icicles stabbing at your heart, if you sweat thinking about un-met production and over-met promises.
Welcome to the stress of holiday season.
Whatever your religious beliefs, there’s always worry about proper protocol, like do you support Starbucks cup cakes with decorations of tinsel on trees? Can wish each other happy holidays or will the word Christmas stick in your throat?? Are you in the right frame of mind about what type of gifts are ok? And how bout bonuses and parties?
Odds are you and your team start to show holiday stress as soon as that first leaf on the nearest tree turns red or orange or yellow.
Live where the weather never changes? Just check out the ads everywhere showing people dressed to the nines, cocktail in hand, and gifts hiding in plain sight wrapped in shiny paper.
Once that frost is on a pumpkin somewhere around the world stress creeps in and takes charge.
Here’s a list to keep in mind till the New Year shows up. It will help you practice “SAFE STRESS” and reward your colleagues during this complex time. And as an added bonus, these same suggestions work at home too.
1. Listen: yup, really listen. Nod your head and simply say “I hear you” will tame the biggest grouch.
2. Encourage: empathy and understanding and saying “I know it must be tough” is enough to stop whiners from escalating to a fever pitch.
3. Share: a cup of coffee, a joke, a moment in time can deter the worst upset and anger from becoming a mountain of mess.
4. Ask: for help, this can make someone feel validated and important to you and make more of a difference than you realize.
5. Educate: new information can change a perspective in the blink of an eye and hearing “I never thought of it that way before” can change a life forever.
6. Celebrate: a pat on the back and a sincere thank you can melt the coldest of hearts and help you gain a friend.
7. Write: yes, write on a card about something you noticed that made you smile or helped you relax. Not an email, actually pen on paper.
Psychological paychecks can do what money can never do. When you acknowledge you make people feel empowered. Trust deepens. People become more optimistic.
Safe stress means that we, you, them, are all in it together. Getting through the rest of the year will always have it bumps and grinds. It will always make everyone wonder what is worth it, what really matters.
That’s the human condition.
As a leader, at every and any level, you can contribute to a holiday season with more meaning and purpose.
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