My first impulse for this blog post, which is centered on wishing you the very best holiday season, was to search my past for a story that might resonate. Or, to try to think of a unique perspective or lesson from the holiday season that we could apply to the work of public relations.
But the truth is, if your holiday season is like mine, you have mixed feelings. We’re coming off what amounted to a three-year disruption that started with a pandemic, but it led to so much other upheaval.
As a result, companies, organizations and workplaces are permanently changed. Even your relationships may be different now. From family to friends to coworkers and colleagues, there is a chance that things are just different now.
I won’t presume that your experience is exactly the same as mine. So, I won’t offer a story to tug at your heart. I won’t offer some trite organizational PR advice. Instead, I will offer some gentle suggestions. In the course of this, I will veer away from the typical noncommittal, beige PR blog post.
So, please bear with me.
As we move into the heart of the holiday season, you will likely spend time with people you haven’t seen in a long time. Some may be close family members or friends. It may feel awkward, not only because the time that has passed, but also because you may have disagreed with each other over everything from health advice to politics.
It’s time to put that aside. It’s not healthy for your relationship to let these things invade it. You never let it happen in the past, don’t let it happen now.
The truth is, there are forces who benefit from dividing society. Social media sites wouldn’t get clicks and shares without polarization. Politicians wouldn’t get elected. News media programs wouldn’t get ratings if more people had a better understanding of each other, overlooked their differences and just got along. You need to know this and not allow them to control you and your personal life.
So where to start?
No matter the history, use this holiday season to forgive those who may have rubbed you the wrong way, and it’s time to seek their forgiveness. Trust me, if you think you’re in a position of being able to forgive someone else, you are probably in need of some forgiveness yourself. If you’ve blamed their attitude on the network news they watch, you may need to look at the news you’re consuming. If you don’t think it’s a two-way street, you’re deceiving yourself. Be humble. You may not even have to talk forgiveness per se, but simply by re-opening the door to dialogue and perhaps getting together this holiday season, focusing on why you have always been close is a good place to start. This is healthy.
When you are with friends and family, seek to understand them and appreciate them. This is not to say engage in sensitive conversations, but rather, listen to others and try to understand that they, like you, have their own reasons and values that contribute to their belief system. Respect that and don’t be quick to judge. It is quite possible that your tendency to judge is what strained the relationship to begin with.
After the holidays, stay in touch. A note, an email a phone call. Perhaps a courteous social media post. Do the things that keep those doors open.
You may consider yourself faithful, but perhaps you’ve allowed that faith to lie dormant for a long time. The pressures of life, and perhaps a few disappointments along the way, created some disillusionment. You’ve used that disillusionment to become cynical, and in the process, you’ve opened the door to those polarizing influences that have filled a void. I’m suggesting you rethink that. Your spiritual and philosophical self will not permit a vacuum. Either you let the dogma of secular society to give you the value system it wants to give you, or you take control and realize you can trust in the Higher Being. Know that many things are beyond your control, but they are handleable if you have faith. The starting point in this process is prayer.
I can’t make any promises if you do these four things, but I can say you won’t regret it. Meanwhile, have a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!