For the Holiday and the Workplace
Many of us are celebrating America's Independence Day this weekend, and in anticipation of family gatherings, fireworks, grilling out, ribs, popsicles, or however you celebrate, we offer four simple neighborly tips that can apply on Independence Day weekend and the workplace on Monday.
Tip 1: When it's hot, seek ways to cool off.
Temperatures do make a difference - there’s a reason we have phrases like “heated debate” and that a quick-tempered person might be called a “hot-head”, or that staying calm is “keeping your cool.” Keep in mind as you engage in conversations with your family and friends that very often when the heat outside rises, so can irritability. Provide opportunities to be in the shade and keep yourself (and those around you) plenty hydrated. The same is true in the workplace - keep your cool by staying properly hydrated (seriously, drink plenty of water!) and by being sensitive about which conversations to have when the heat is on because of an impending deadline or when tempers flare for whatever reason. When a discussion gets heated, stop for a cool-off break: a change of scenery, a change of topic, a refreshing splash of humor can all be helpful.
Tip 2: Not everyone loves fireworks.
Whether it's a young parent trying to get their toddler to finally settle in for the night, a pet owner whose pet is trembling in fear, or a person whose memories of trauma are triggered by the sound of explosions, there are plenty of people who dread fireworks. What’s meant as a public display of passionate enthusiasm for some can be really uncomfortable for others. Loud vocal clashes between people often cause distress too, and even though you feel strongly about something, shouting louder about the topic may turn others away rather than helping them hear you. Remember that not everyone has the same perspective, and consider checking in with those nearest to you to make sure your actions aren't distracting them from your message. If you discover you've caused a disruption to someone else unwittingly, apologize, restore if you can, and see how you can do better next time.
Tip 3: Cleanup is easier if we each do our part.
Messes need to be cleaned up: disposable picnicware disposed of, residue from the sparklers or other driveway-approved fireworks cleaned up safely, leftover food stowed, empty cans and bottles recycled. If each of us contributes to the cleanup, then no single person is stuck cleaning up everything. “Many hands make light work”and “if everyone does a little, no one has to do a lot" are the sayings. It’s not about figuring out who made which particular mess, it’s about working together to clean it up. When a mess is made at work - a project gone awry, communication mishap, overlooked risk that became an issue, a conversation that went so far sideways it capsized, we’re better working together to clean up the mess rather than assigning blame. If we all contribute together to the cleanup, we can get back to normal faster.
Tip 4: Different doesn't have to mean worse.
With continued concerns about the spread of the pandemic, with cancellations of community activities and restrictions around social distancing, and with a shift in our national discourse around our nation's history, some folks might be afraid that the 4th of July will be different this year, and that because it’s different, it won’t be as good as before. But different doesn't have to be bad. Different can be good. Seek ways to celebrate the good in, and with, your neighbors. Seek ways to find common ground. Celebrate the many things for which you are grateful. Invent new games or activities that are safe for social distancing. Use mask-wearing as a chance to close your mouth and listen to someone else share what matters to them. Use your sparkler to spell out words of hope and future brightness. When you encounter something new, look at it as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to stretch. Rather than facing something different as a thing to fear, approach it with curiosity, with a desire to understand, and as an opportunity for even better.
Whatever this weekend means to you, we hope you have a great holiday, and that these tips help you and those around you remember to be neighborly -- to your community neighbors, your office neighbors when we return to the workplace, and your work-from-home neighbors.