Every December for the past 22 years, I am hired to provide a program on Stress Management for someone. Sometimes it’s an accounting firm; the managing partner wants to provide the staff with strategies and tips in preparation for the upcoming tax season. Other times, it’s an organization that has had an especially tough year and by December, employees are too frayed for genuine holiday cheer.
This year, many programs had ‘stress management’ components integrated within the content to help particpants deal with the frustration and weariness they were demonstrating on the job. Most of the time, my job is to remain upbeat in the face of defeat: pragmatic, encouraging and supportive. It’s also my nature – I AM optimistic about people’s ability to move forward, learn, grow, and advance.
As November turned to December, I found that my writing became more sarcastic (requiring rewrites and revisions as my Administrative Manager/Proof Reader/Editor would suggest that the tone was a bit ‘dark.’) In training programs, as more and more people griped about others while agreeing that they couldn’t actually change another person (“But ——“), bemoaned the lack of competent employees and capable executives, my humor went from teasing, to dry, to sarcastic to almost caustic. While most of the time the ‘slap upside the head’ was in my head and not on my lips, I found myself hearing more venting than strategizing.
I know that the first step in providing support is to listen and understand. Yet there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for all the listening that would be required before anyone was truly open to creating a strategy, learning a skill, or focusing on what new way they might impact the situation to improve it.
As an admitted folk-music fan, I have many versions of the song Light One Candle by Peter Yarrow and it’s played frequently at this time of the year. I see the fatigue that many of my clients, training participants, and colleagues are experiencing. This has been a draining year. I listen to the disenchanted and disillusioned every day.
The holidays can be tough but they can also be a time to count the blessings that you do have and focus on what you can do, and what you might do – not what OTHERS could do to make your life better. .
It’s not always easy to see the up-side of things. But since it’s the opposite of the down-side – it’s always there and at the same time! We all have the power to light one candle. We just have to locate the match. I can probably help you with that – since I always know where to find mine.