Interpersonal Edge: Holiday etiquette in the workplace
Sunday, November 20, 2016

By Dr. Daneen Skube

Tribune Content Agency
Q. My office always enjoys the holiday season and celebrates them all. We've hired a lot of diverse people over the last six months. Some of our new employees are offended by Halloween (devil worship?), others are offended by Christmas celebrations and some think Thanksgiving is politically incorrect. How do you navigate these differences while still celebrating the holidays important to many of us? 
  A. You can celebrate these holidays by widening the range of celebrations rather than attempting to avoid anything that may offend someone. If many of you wear Halloween costumes, so be it. Employees that are concerned about devil worship can wear crosses and bring holy water at the end of October.
  The problem with political correctness in the workplace is that we can end up extinguishing genuine opportunities to celebrate our diversity. Pretending we are not diverse, we do not have different religions, different views or different cultures is crazy making.
  Consider having a holiday planning meeting where all employees are able to expand the pool of holidays you celebrate rather than deleting the holidays some employees disagree with. Each employee could be encouraged to bring in aspects of his or her customs and provide information about why this celebration is important to his or her culture.
  Many of my clients have adopted holiday customs like routinely saying, "Merry Christmas and all other holidays you celebrate!" Thus my clients that celebrate Christmas and have fond childhood memories still get to chirp out customary greetings while honoring the reality other people celebrate other traditions.
  If we run around banning the Christmas tree, or Hanukkah candles or Kwanzaa kinara, we impoverish our workplaces because we chose to be offended rather than curious. The reality is our businesses will flourish because of the differences we bring to our organizations. Our organizations' profit and productivity will suffer if we are so afraid of our differences we ban them all.
  Obviously, if some of your employees come to work wearing terrifying garb on Halloween, that would not be good for business or coworkers. During your holiday planning meeting, formulating guidelines about what wouldn't work during Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas season is certainly reasonable. However guidelines are different from wholesale outlawing one person's holiday celebration because someone else has a different tradition.
  As our business world becomes increasingly global and diverse, we have the opportunity to enrich and expand our world through learning the world views of others. We shouldn't impoverish and decrease our world because we can't get over our entitlement that everyone should agree with us.
  Work is stressful and hard. Why would we give up opportunities to celebrate anything just to avoid upsetting the few employees who are constantly searching for something to be offended by? We do not have to agree on everything, even holiday customs, to be productive, profitable and play together in our work.  
  The last word(s)
  Q. My boss won't make time to do my performance review. Is there a way to get this done by the end of the year?
  A. Yes, write up your own performance review for him and email it to him. Your boss will be delighted you did this part of his job for him and you get a detailed and positive review.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This was printed in the November 13, 2016 - November 26, 2016 edition.

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