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by Alice Alessandri and Alberto Aleo

The Christmas holidays are approaching quickly and many of us will spend them at home with their loved ones. Holidays are made not only for spending more time with our dear ones, but also for relaxing and restoring our energies, therefore it is very important to make the most of them. As always quality lies in the details and this is what we are going to discuss in the following paragraphs: we’ll try and analyse the little attentions that can turn Christmas into a real present both for ourselves and for those around us.

Form is substance: living with style for a better life

 Why do we talk about “holiday etiquette”? Etiquette is a set of rules for good behaviour which is very useful if we want to respect ourselves and show respect to the people around us. Respect is the basis for all positive relationships and the Christmas holidays are especially aimed at meeting up with the people we love and re-connect with the most authentic side of ourselves.

A quote from Lao Tzu says:

  • Watch your thoughts, they become words.
  • Watch your thoughts, they become words.
  • Watch your words, they become actions.
  • Watch your actions, they become habits.
  • Watch your habits, they become character.

Etiquette helps us act properly and develop good habits so as to live our lives to the fullest. 

So let’s see how we can fill our holidays with good manners.


Workaholics are related to work as slaves are related to chains

Many people have become, despite themselves, addicted to their jobs, i.e. they can’t stop thinking about their careers all the time, in every place or situation. Statistics show that productivity depends more on the quality than on the quantity of the time we spend at work. This explains why countries like Denmark, where they work less hours than we do, have higher productivity ratios.

– – –
Telling other people how much we work, always complaining about how hard our working day is, doesn’t add any value to ourselves or to our companies nor does it say anything about our performances. In fact very often it is a symptom of inefficiency.
– – –

Being passionate about our job is different from being obsessed with it. Therefore try not to dump your professional frustrations on others by spoiling the Christmas dinner with your laptop on the table or calling your boss in the middle of the New Year countdown. Unless you are some kind of surgeon who performs open-heart surgery remotely, please spare us your professional withdrawal symptoms!  

Fare buoni pensieri

Boors of the new millennium

Here is a list of terrible bad-mannered actions you should avoid, no matter your justification:

  1. Calling colleagues/clients/suppliers outside working hours or on your days off, unless it’s a real emergency (you would even be legally prosecutable in France).
  2. Not informing your contacts (clients, colleagues, suppliers) about your holiday time off through a specific notice or automatic response, providing clear information on how to handle emergencies.
  3. Sending presents and best wishes cards via registered mail, forcing people to go to the post office during the busiest time of the year.
  4. Sending identical cards, texts or emails full of standard messages and phrases. Send less and customize them. If possible sign them by hand.
  5. Sending your best wishes to your whole list of contacts, including everybody – even those you haven’t heard from in years. Select the ones you have a real relationship with, which justifies your message.
  6. Not respecting other people’s different religions. If you have international relationships opt for neutral formulas like “Season’s greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas”.
  7. Sending last minute presents and parcels. They will probably be delivered towards the end of February (and probably get damaged) causing disappointment and embarrassment to everybody.
  8. Spoiling all conversations with your professional issues, complaining like mediocre employees, providing unrequested information about how much you earn, or worse asking inappropriate questions about other people’s professional lives.
  9. Remember that laptops and mobile phones should not be used at the table, therefore keep them away.
  10. Arriving late or leaving early because of a “last minute work obligation”. If you are really that busy, then just stay home.

Happy Holidays

In conclusion remember that optimism is always elegant, whereas pessimism is for boors. And gratitudine is the highest of feelings.

Therefore whatever the menu this Christmas, add a pinch of both and your holidays will be a shared success!

| partem claram semper aspice |

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Alice Alessandri and Alberto Aleo, a couple in life and work, are founders of the consulting and training company Passodue, which operates in the field of ethical sales and marketing.
Their publications and articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines. In the US since 2013 they collaborate with researchers and professors on the topics of Business Ethics.

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