How Not to Sound like a Schmaltzy Holiday Card


Andrea, seven years old, with dark curly hair and sparkly brown eyes declared, “I love this time of year!”


“Why?”, asked Phil, her neighbor, as he leaned on the broom he’d been using to clear snow off the walkway.


“Because people are nice to each other. People play, even adults. They say nice things to each other. Everyone seems closer even my Grandpa who’s all the way in New York- next to Canada. I wish it was Christmas time all year long!”


Out of the mouths of babes, right?


Connection Is Better than Gingerbread Or a Raise


Connection- the sense of relating, being seen, being recognized and valued. Of belonging. Even at work.


But how do you know you belong? That you’re valued? That your work matters?


When do you feel connected to the people around you? To what you are doing?


    • When you get a raise? Maybe if it is merit raise. A standard cost of living raise really doesn’t have the same sense of connection.


    • You get the office Secret Santa gift? Terrific! An other coffee and mug gift combo!


    • Or when someone admires and tells you about something you did really well? Bingo!



It’s About Noticing


Do you find yourself seeing best in others around this time of year? I do.


    • Like Dave’s gift for telling stories that makes history alive and help make sense of present.


    • Or Donna’s moxie, she speaks her truth anywhere, at anytime and to anyone.


    • And Jasmine’s ability to think though a thorny situation at work and find an approach that respects multiple points of view.



The winter holidays’ focus on gratitude, connection, and the promise of a fresh start in the coming year makes it easier to appreciate others and clear see what they do well.


Let’em Know You Care


The magic really happens is when you tell an other person what you see in him or her.


When you do it there is a two-fold impact:


    1. Your outlook is positive, regardless of your work (or other) situation.


    1. And the other person is boosted too.



And when you’re positive:


    • You’re more confident. And you’ve given the other person and tangible example of why they can be confident too.


    • You cope better with stressful situations, like the guy who drives you batty at the office. Ditto for the other person.


    • You’re inspired to showcase your best too. And the other person feels the same.



But Don’t Sound like a Schmaltzy Holiday Card


Take Stock. Acknowledge your team’s accomplishments including their efforts. Too often we save praise for the wins. The efforts matter too, sometimes more the outcomes. Shared praise fosters team cohesion.


Use your words. What you say and how you say carries more weight than what you do. Be generous, and be honest. You don’t need to gild the lily it is remarkable enough on its own.


Gestures not gifts. Focus on showing a person how they’ve impacted you and how that’s made your life better. Tell a story that reflects this.




Deirdre Danahar is helps high-performing executives and entrepreneurs respond successfully and proactively as their organizational changes and as the needs of people in their workforce grow more complex and demanding. She’s also helps people making a career change or who are stepping into a new leadership role transition successfully. Contact her at [email protected] or

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