It’s the holidays and I LOVE the Grinch cartoon and movie. We normally think of him as stealing Christmas spirit with his attitude, but don’t you have Grinches in your office, too? They bark and growl and bah humbug every idea, making your role as leader a pain in the you know where. You’ve labeled them as difficult and certainly treat them as such, but is it possible what’s actually happened is you’ve let this Grinch steal your emotional intelligence? Think of the moral of the Grinch Stole Christmas story and play along with this concept as we take a new approach to those “Grinches” you lead this holiday season.
It’s Not All Happy in Whoville
While every television commercial and retailer ad will lead you to believe that the holiday season is bright and merry for all, this is just not the case. There are those you lead who are sad, fearful, or dreading the arrival of their mother in law and the thought of putting one more candy cane up to celebrate makes them want to use one to poke their eyes out. Give them a break. Not everyone is merry in the “Whoville” of your office around the holiday time. Not everyone is dreaming of sugar plums or sees elf on the shelf as an endearing creature. You don’t have to label them as a scrooge, but stop forcing them to wear a proverbial pair of happy elf shoes. Let them be and consider giving them more work to do as it often provides a welcome distraction. Emotional intelligence includes understanding what people need and what their behavior really means.
Max Gets Treated Like a Minion
During the holiday season the stress peaks at an all-time high. Between gifts to buy, what to buy and for whom, parties to smile for, extra workload, the fear of being left out of it all, music that become nauseating by the tenth rendition and so, so much more, it’s no wonder that the normally simply glum employee can rapidly become one who appears far too annoyed for social interaction. Stress is the number one cause of difficult behavior and it’s unfair to blame an employee for being short tempered if they don’t possess the ability to manage the stress. Have a pow-wow with those you lead and those they lead to brace everyone for the reality that this is the time of year to cut all some slack. It’s not acceptable for your Grinches to treat everyone like mere minions and simply be rude, much as it’s not acceptable to assume that the new level of stress is having no impact on employees and manager’s attitudes. Emotional intelligence entails being able to interpret a person’s level of stress and not taking their natural reactions as difficult behavior done intentionally.
A Cindy Lou May Be Among You
Maybe it’s not you and maybe you’re not the one, but someone on the team you lead may have a heart that is NOT two sizes too small, as the Seuss rhyme goes, and may turn your Grinch’s heart from stone to a more pinkish tone. Who might that be who could reach your Grinch and help get them through these holiday times? Is there someone who might understand and be willing to provide a helping hand in managing them? In the story and the movie, Cindy Lou is the one who covers for the Grinch when he robs her home and help to turn his entire thought process completely around. She is the one who sees beyond his rough exterior and believes in the real meaning of the holiday, who’s kind approach proves generous and heartwarming more than most. Find that Cindy Lou and have him or her extend a hand to the one person in your office this time of year who’s biggest fear may be that no one will want to be their Secret Santa when it appears everyone else has an abundance of presents. Emotional intelligence could be used to describe a leader’s ability to see what is really needed when others are telling you where that difficult person needs to go!
We are all faced with difficult people from time to time and yet most don’t realize that what is shown as difficulty is usually a great cover for pain. Don’t let your Grinches steal your emotional intelligence. Stop taking their pain personally and extend a hand, dare you miss the real meaning of the season and the true meaning behind giving. It’s not always about the gifts we give and presents we wrap, but the simple touch on the shoulder and as leaders, the lives we impact.