We all feel a lot of pressure regarding things we “should do” during the holidays — for our family, friends, co-workers, clients, boss. It gets to the point that the expectations feel overwhelming, and the temptation is just to “shut down” and do nothing (for anyone!) This is typically not a good solution.
Let me offer an alternative solution to you: be yourself. Be genuinely you during the holidays. Don’t try to impress people. Don’t do things just to “look good” or because “you are supposed to”.
Let me explain. There is more than enough “image management” going on in the world — both at an individual and corporate level. We are inundated with hundreds of messages daily that encourage us to buy, give or do something to “look good”. I say: give it up (it’s not worth it.)
Peter Block, in Flawless Consulting, states: “For whatever the reason, authenticity continues to be rare in our workplaces.”
Here is what most people want from others, I think: be yourself, interact genuinely with others, and allow them to be authentically themselves as well (it doesn’t work very well in a unilateral direction, does it?)
So, don’t worry and fret about what you should get for Susan or John as a Christmas gift, what you should do for the Christmas party, or who you should send Christmas cards to (and on and on.)
Rather, try these actions on and see what happens:
- Work hard at being “totally present” in conversations with your friends, family and coworkers. Consciously tell yourself that you have time to listen — and do so.
- Actively show interest in others’ lives — ask them questions, (and listen to the answer). Find out what they did this past weekend or what they have planned for the holidays. Maybe probe past the “We’re going to see my family in [name that city/state]” and ask — “What about that are you looking forward to?”
- Share about yourself (but not for 20 minutes!) Genuineness includes allowing others to know you. Be a little more specific about what you are doing or where you are going. Often, it is these specific events where we make connections with others — fidinng out they used to live in [state], or they also enjoy going to see the Nutcracker.
- Smile when you are happy. But also be honest and say, “Not so great” or “tired”, when someone asks how you are doing (if that is how you feel.) Don’t belabor the point, just be honest.
And, if you can honestly say so, maybe tell them something they did this past year that made a difference in your life (when they did x,y or z). We all want to know that what we do matters somewhere beyond “the bottom line.”
Try a little authenticity this holiday season. I’m pretty sure it will make your life less stressful, and others will find your genuineness refreshing.