Merry Christmas — Unless You’re Offended

            Georgia passed someone in the hallway where she worked. It was the last day of work before the Christmas holiday. She didn’t even know this person who said, “Merry Christmas.” Georgia replied, “I’m not a Christian, so I don’t celebrate the Jesus story. I also think Christmas is a ridiculous time when stores gouge the public with their overpriced merchandise. So spare me the Merry Christmas greeting. I find it offensive.”           

Complaints about politically-correct language increase around holiday time. You know, the “happy holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas” stuff. Those who whine about this issue seem to forget that PC language boils down to courtesy, respect, and empathy for others who have a perspective different from theirs.

            To one degree or another, we all see ourselves as the most important ingredient in our life recipe. The strength of this self-serving bias varies from person to person, and even within ourselves at different times. Any way you look at it, however, the bias is there and it has the potential to make using PC language distasteful to those who refuse to accept that there’s a world out there beyond their personal space.

            Being conflicted about using PC language can be a source of stress in interpersonal relations. Witness Georgia and her merry co-worker. Here’s a coping thought: Let’s soften our life recipe to acknowledge the importance of ingredients other than ourselves. Let’s ask ourselves, “What determines how others remember me?” The answer is, “People remember how you make them feel.”

What sort of daily legacy do you want to leave? Do you want people to remember you as someone who makes them feel undervalued and inferior to you? Or, do you want them to remember you as someone who makes them feel good because you understand and respect their perspective?

            Why not adopt a little humility, and decide that life is not all about you; why not take the time to make others feel worthy of your respect. Doing so will remove from your mind frivolous, nonsensical things like worrying about PC language. You will feel more empowered and independent; you will feel more productive; and those feelings will bring you more personal satisfaction. Most important, you’ll have more pleasant interactions with others.

            Danny is one of those guys who greets life each day with a smile. His co-workers love him because he’s always ready to lend a helping hand and believes in teamwork. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and loves to defuse conflict with a light-hearted comment. On the last day of work before the Christmas holiday, he was exiting the building and passed an employee he didn’t know. He said with a big smile, “Happy holidays, happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa, merry Christmas, bah humbug. Choose your preference!”

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