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The Power of Christmas: How Christmas Turned Enemies into Friends

The Power of Christmas: How Christmas Turned Enemies into Friends

British Christmas ads are a highly anticipated event throughout the country. Last year, no one thought anyone could trump John Lewis’s darling penguin. In a surprising turn, Sainsbury’s took the lead with a story from a cold Christmas Day in 1914.

In the 2014 Sainsbury’s holiday advertising campaign, the brave men of the Great War made a comeback on television screens across Britain. The advertisement shows men on opposing sides coming together over the Christmas holiday. On Christmas Day, they laid down their weapons, exchanged gifts and even played football.

Few people are used to seeing truth in advertising. But this story is so good that no one could make it up. The nation was shocked to discover that the ad was based on a true story. The retailer loved the story so much that it worked together with a war historian to recreate the scene as accurately as possible. The Royal British Legion also got involved to add authenticity to the video.

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The British and the German soldiers had fired shots at each other only the day before. As the story goes, on Christmas Day, a British soldier looks up as the Germans begin a rendition of “Silent Night”. The British soldier then carefully climbs out of his trench and into “no man’s land”. He is then joined by other soldiers from both sides.

The soldiers play a game of football. A British soldier secretly gave a gift to a German soldier, slipping it into his pocket. When the German soldier returns to his trench, he finds a chocolate bar.

Sainsbury’s worked with relatives of soldiers who were there that day to add a fuller narrative to the story. Andrew Hamilton, grandson of Captain Robert Hamilton, allowed Sainsbury’s to access his grandfather’s diaries. The diaries revealed that Captain Hamilton made contact with two German soldiers just before dawn. This was the beginning of the Christmas gift heard around the world.

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The advertisement was not unprecedented. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the war. Earlier in 2014, the moat of the Tower of London hosted thousands of bright red ceramic poppies. This event also commemorated the anniversary of the war. During the few months that it was on display, millions of people flocked to the Tower of London to see it.

Sainsbury’s has also enjoyed a 20-year long partnership with the Royal British Legion and offers a variety of discounts for veterans. This campaign was important to everyone involved. The advertisement was made to honor the men who lost their lives during World War I. But it does so much more than that. It also serves as a reminder of what the holiday season is all about.

So many people think only of the gifts they will give and receive. They think of the food they will eat. They think of the shopping they will do and the bargains they will find, whether it’s buying a cell phone booster on Cyber Monday or the latest Apple gadget. Some think of the family members they miss and those they would rather not be seeing again.

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But the story of a war time Christmas, so beautifully illustrated by Sainsbury’s, suggests that people are capable of so much more.

It drew people’s hearts away from John Lewis’s penguin because it was a perfect illustration of how good people can be. Even in the middle of one of the bloodiest wars in history, groups of men could come together to celebrate life.

Christmas is one of the most powerful times of the year. It can make mortal enemies, who do not even speak the same language, forget their politics and their countries and come together, even if only for a day.

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Featured photo credit: Christmas Day Truce 1914/Smabs Sputzer via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to master the Gentle Art of Saying No:

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1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no,” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning.

But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

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“Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

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“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.

10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

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Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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