Home » Blog » 5 Reasons the Christmas Season Is the Worst Time for Workplace Incivility

5 Reasons the Christmas Season Is the Worst Time for Workplace Incivility

Businessman Arguing With His Two Co-workersWe’re rapidly approaching the worst time workplace incivility. What is that time? I believe it’s the Christmas season — but why? Here are my 5 main reasons:

1) Social activity ramps up during December. There are work Christmas parties to contend with (oftentimes more than one) and difficult people are even more difficult with an increased blood alcohol level. Harassment, gossip, “walking on eggshells” and “making nice” can all place you under such increased strain that the temptation to drink and “make it all go away” is powerful.

What You Can Do: Only attend the Christmas party if you must (or, shock, horror, if you really want to — will it be fun?). Bring a “wing-(wo)man” with you to help buffer the worst behavior — after all, your sleazy boss can’t do too much damage when there’s a witness present. 

Also, make sure to space your drinks with long, cool glasses of water, so you stay in control. Make it known ahead of time you can only stay until “x” time because of your commitment to your babysitter / feeding the dogs (make up something!). Be curious and ask open-ended questions so you can be in listening mode more — being on the receiving end of important or not-so-important information is a more powerful stance than revealing too much about YOU!

2) There’s typically more pressure, deadlines and increased workloads, but also more absenteeism as well because co-workers are escaping “the-morning-after-the-night-before” (and other excuses). Does the extra workload pressure fall on your shoulders?

What You Can Do: Bide your time and do your best with the workload — after all, there’s only so much you can do and this time won’t last forever. Keep your wits about you and record all instances of unreasonable behavior, to keep in your private evidence file, away from prying eyes. That way, it’s ready when you need it!

3) There’s usually increased pressure on the home front, since both family and friends expect a lot from us this season. With presents to buy and an ever-dwindling bank account, the financial pressure can take its toll, giving us less resources to deal with hostility at work.

What You Can Do: Take back control of your budget and give more creative, meaningful and personal gifts that don’t cost the world. Shopping online saves you time and battling the holiday shoppers for bargains and parking spaces. Take a day out where you make your own gifts — like cooking delicious treats or making craft items — it’s meditative and will put you in the “be-in-the-present-moment” zone. 

4) The roads are more congested with traffic, so everyone’s temper is frayed before they even come into work, making it a more “snappy” environment than usual. This is also the time when negative emotions are heightened and old wounds are triggered by feuding families, isolation, impatience and childhood trauma.

What You Can Do: Make sure to start the day with an activity that puts you in a calm, balanced mind — like vigorous exercise, meditation or cuddling your pet. Each time you encounter someone who’s emotionally off-balance, cast your mind back to your morning ritual so you can take perspective and connect with your inner-smile. Use others’ bad moods to be grateful for what you do have and show them kindness to diffuse negativity.

 5) I’ve left the worst ’til last — can you guess what it is? I believe that it’s because when you finally get that time off, the thought of going back to work in January and facing the same hostile workplace can really erode your temporary respite with feelings of anticipatory stress and worry.

I understand that time of year can be really tough, which is why I’m offering a free video training series in early January, just as you come back from your holiday, called “Walk Away From Work Stress”.

That way, you’ll know help is at hand, an escape route if you will, just when you need it the most.

If you want the training, you can join my waitlist at: to be the first to receive it — but I’ll also be supporting you with other great resources before then.

5 Reasons the Christmas Season Is the Worst Time for Workplace Incivility

Sophie Henshaw, DPsych

Dr. Sophie Henshaw is a clinical psychologist in private practice with over 20 years' experience. She loves helping mid-career women who long to get away from hostile workplaces and bad bosses. She believes with a little imagination, escape into a free-spirited life is possible. Dr. Sophie is the author of two books: "Stressed, Depressed And Dreading Mondays" and "What Every Target Of Workplace Bullying Needs To Know." She's appeared on Channel 10, 6PR, HuffPost Live, PsychCentral, Women's Agenda, NineMSN Health, Rebelle Society and Witch. She's a regular Huffington Post contributor (under her pen name). For more, visit:

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment
APA Reference
Henshaw, S. (2018). 5 Reasons the Christmas Season Is the Worst Time for Workplace Incivility. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 14 Dec 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.