Peace on earth . . . and in the workplace

Dear Santa:

I've been a little down lately. Our friend and colleague, Michael Lavenant, will be buried today. And I'm still feeling for the residents of Newtown, Connecticut, and what a grim holiday this will be for them.

So, what do we want for Christmas? Most of us sure don't need more stuff -- maybe you can give our stuff to someone who is unemployed, or to someone who can't work because of an illness or old age. I hope that everyone will be able to spend the holidays with their family and friends, or in whatever way makes them happy.

But since you've asked what we want, here are five things we really need:

Humility. That we will recognize that everyone -- everyone -- has gifts that we don't have, and that everyone is a better person than we are in some ways.

Charity. That we'll be generous with our material blessings, definitely. But also that we'll overlook, work around, or better yet not even notice the faults of others. That we will not forget the mean, rude, unfair, insensitive, and stupid things we have done in our own lives, and all of the kind people who forgave us and continued to put up with us anyway. That we may always give credit where credit is due, and maybe even when it isn't. That we may be as quick to take the blame when things go badly as we are to take credit when they go well.

The knowledge that it's not all about us. A wise man (not sure which one!) once said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." We don't know what trials other people undergo in their lives, but we know they have trials. Chronic illness, marital problems, loneliness, bereavement, estrangement from loved ones -- these are just a few of the things that others may be suffering from in silence, whether it's the bigshot CEO who makes 1,000 times as much as the material handler on the plant floor, or the material handler. (Or anyone else.) May we never forget that.

Honesty. That we will always tell the truth, or if we're not at liberty to be frank or the unvarnished truth might unnecessarily hurt someone's feelings, that we "varnish" a little as needed or just keep our mouths shut. But no lying, and especially not when it's only to keep ourselves out of trouble.

Generosity of spirit. In other words, no envy! That we may be genuinely happy when others receive honors or raises, or whatever, rather than ruminating resentfully about all the ways that we deserved it more. That we may be satisfied with what we have, whether others have more or not. That we may not experience schadenfreude -- or at least that we may shake it off quickly.

Dear Santa, just think what a workplace it would be if we all lived by these standards! Please, please don't be late!

DEAR READERS: I'll be on vacation for the next week, and so there will be no regular Friday post on December 28. I'll be back on January 4, and I may have some posts in the interim if breaking news warrants it. Thank you all for reading this blog and for your kind comments and emails over the past year. I wish you all a very happy holiday season and a happy and prosperous 2013!

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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