The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: Scrooge and humbug...

Question: “We have one person who grumpily refuses to attend our works Christmas party. How can I persuade him to come? ” Sam

Answer: We have this fantasy that during the Christmas season ordinarily taciturn people will suddenly become, if not the life and soul of the party, at least beaming and laughing along with everyone else. It’s completely unrealistic of course. When you’re scraping to make ends meet, recently bereaved, depressed, introverted or just plain lonely, the excesses of Christmas can be excruciating.

So pressing him to attend may just exacerbate his grumpiness. Take the pressure off by reassuring him that you’re not trying to persuade him to attend but that you’re interested in what it is that’s stopping him from wanting to come. It might be something trivial but whatever the reason, it will be valid from his view of the world. Then ask what would need to change for him to be comfortable about attending. If he opens up, great, if not, at least you’ve shown the real spirit of Christmas by caring for another. You’ll know that you’ve done your best, can go to the party with a clear conscience and who knows, you might have opened the door enough for him to start working through whatever it is so he can attend next year’s party with gusto.


Laura Murphy is the founder of mtc2 ltd, a management consultancy, training and coaching company. Laura is an organisation development specialist and business coach. If you have a problem then contact her at

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Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.