3 Steps To Appreciate Others This Holiday Season
Expressing gratitude is an art worth practicing at home and in the office. It’s easy with people we already care about and enjoy working with. I don’t think you need any tips on that.
Rather, let’s unpack how to approach that person you love to hate – ironically, he or she needs it more. Although often doesn’t act like it. And there’s no time like the holidays to give it another go.
Remember being grateful to that person is not caving in, reconciliation, or forgetting. Only an invitation to affirm the good (however small or nano-sized) in all people. Even the people who drive you crazy. You know who they are. And they probably do too.
1. Recognize the fault lines
Humans have a tendency to minimize hurts. Yet every hurt makes us more cautious, which is a slippery slope to strained relationships and conflict when not addressed to one degree or another. Do the situation justice and be honest.
Here are some sentence or conversation starters:
- I know we’ve disagreed in the past…
- While we haven’t always shared the same point of view…
- I recognize that I may have annoyed you in the past…
In using these words, we recognize the wound: deception, disappointment, abandonment, betrayal…sounds like the holidays amiright? This is not apologizing. It’s stating a fact as you understand it.
[Read more: How To Believe In Yourself After Work Conflict]
2. Focus on the good
Try to center on the good qualities in this person. And if these are hidden, assume good qualities exist in them. Spend any time in a local park or nursery unit in a hospital, and you’ll see that we are all born with an innate joy and wonder.
I found a great way to dig up the good in someone is to ask them. Simple questions work wonders, such as:
- Do you remember your first cup of hot chocolate?
- Did you grow up around here? Whereabouts?
- What are you watching these days?
I managed a guy who was obsessed about his image and, regular readers know, tried to usurp my management because we were the same age (and I suspect because he had little respect for female leaders). Despite his tactics, I asked him what is was like to be an investment banker right out of college. It was the first time he opened up about his struggle with racism and promotions. All of which explained a lot.
3. Show openness to relationship
This is where the rubber meets the road. Here are some simple ways to express gratitude. Note these are strategically low to no cost because the last thing you need is *that* person thinking that you are buying them off. Plus my guess is you’re not inclined to spend a lot of money on them anyway. Win-win!
- Send a handwritten note or holiday card
- Invite them to walk out and grab lunch
- Offer them a ride home if it’s on your way
- Smile and wish them a good day
- Show up early to their meetings
- Disarm them by being polite
- Be willing to help them
- Say thank you instead of sorry
Over time, the ultimate goal is that the wounds you recognized in Step 1 become integrated into your life as something that happened. The pain may linger. But you no longer need grudges, resentments, or self-pity. You are simply more aware. Perhaps even better for it.
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”