“Merry Christmas” Follow-up

Yesterday, I wrote my opinion to the “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas” controversy. When I referred to it as “world-shaking”, of course, I was engaging in a bit of hyperbole. There are those who want to avoid giving offense (almost impossible these days) and so they stick with “Happy Holidays”. Then there are the folks who say to heck with the PC-police, they celebrate Christmas (whether as a religious or secular holiday is irrelevant) and they want to wish other people a “Merry Christmas”.

And, you know what? Either way, that’s fine.

I mean, really, let’s look at the numbers. According to my in-depth research (I did a Google search), between eighty-five and ninety-five percent of the population of the United States celebrates Christmas. They obviously won’t be bothered in the slightest by someone wishing them a Merry Christmas. I’d guess a good ninety percent of the rest will take the greeting in the spirit it’s given. Still no problem here. Of the small remainder who actually might take offense, I’m guessing for most of them it will be only a minor irritation. The very small group remaining who are actually going to make a federal case out of it, well, I guess those are the chances you take.

For most of us, the one tenth of a percent chance that we’re really going to tick someone off is worth it in exchange for the joy we spread.

So, as controversies go, this is more of a molehill than a mountain. At least on a personal level.

I think most of the controversy happens when a business has a policy to use one over the other. In fact, as far as I can tell, businesses — especially large chains — are pretty much damned if they do, damned if they don’t. With the nature of the echo-chamber that is the Web these days, those vanishingly few people who are outraged one way or the other can make their presence known far and wide and disproportionately affect the public perception of the business.

I guess I don’t have an answer for that one.

My main point to the whole “controversy” is this: At least with networking, it should always be about the other person. The best thing to do would be to establish a relationship with them, at least to a point where you know, one way or the other, what holidays they celebrate.

Almost no one is going to get upset if you greet them “incorrectly”, but they will get a thrill if you get it “right”.

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About Greg Peters

Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

2 Comments

  1. I am a secular celebrator. I do get funny questions from people who know my belief system asking if I put up a Christmas tree. It makes me smile that they feel comfortable enough to ask. And the answer is "Yes, I do!"

  2. After all, it's not Christmas without the Christmas Tree, right?

    A good point though about people feeling comfortable enough and knowledgeable enough about us to ask these kinds of questions.

    Merry Christmas!

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