Don’t Be a Grinch

Don’t Be a Grinch


Yes, we face big problems. We’re a politically divided nation. In this post-truth world we can’t even agree on what’s real. Still, what if we agreed to be more neighborly? 

A commitment to being more considerate and respectful—and less Grinch-like— is a good start toward bridging the divides and finding solutions that work.

I recently moved to Minnesota, and the ethic of being neighborly is woven into the fabric of the local culture. After being here only a few weeks, I heard an elected official commenting on a crime perpetrated against a group of vulnerable people. He said, “It’s just not Minnesotan.” 

A mailing I got from the city addressing snow removal said, “Not only is dumping snow off your property illegal; it’s not neighborly.”

On my way to the mailbox today I said hi to my neighbor who was out shoveling snow. I commented, “In not too many years your son will doing the shoveling!”

He said, “Speaking of my son, did you get our Christmas card?” I said that I did, and told him the pictures of his newborn were precious. 

He said, “That’s good. I’m glad you got it. Last night we dropped the Christmas cards in the neighbors’ mailboxes. The postman just told me he confiscated the cards. He said that I will be charged for postage. I might even have to pay a fine.”

I could not believe what I was hearing. This was beyond unneighborly! Confiscating holiday cards wth photos of a child’s first Christmas is downright Grinch-like behavior. 

Now, it is true that only the USPS has the legal right to place items in a US mailbox. This postman had a number of choices when he found my neighbor’s Christmas cards. He could have looked the other way. He could have told my neighbor, “You might not know this, but it’s illegal for you to place mail in other peoples’ mailboxes.” He could have handed the cards back to my neighbor and said, “Here, why don’t you either hand-deliver these or stamp them and drop them in the mailbox.” 

Think about the last time you were in the receiving end of Grinch-like actions. Did it stick in your craw? Did you want to jump on social media and tell the world? 

On the other hand, think about the last time someone helped you. Consider the last time someone gave you the benefit of the doubt. Even witnessing an act of kindness positively impacts brain chemistry and leads to what neuroscientists call “moral elevation.” Want to see for yourself? Watch this video about the “WestJet Christmas miracle.”

Whether you’re interacting with your clients or your employees or neighbors, you always have a choice: you can be neighborly, or you can be Grinch-like. Choose neighborly. 

© Vicki Rackner MD 2016. You are welcome to reproduce this post with this by-line:

Vicki Rackner MD offers a bridge between the world of business and the world of medicine. Through her company Thriving Doctors, she helps physicians thrive. Thought her company Targeting Doctors she helps businesses acquire doctor clients. Her latest book The Myth of the Rich Doctor that explores doctors’ relationship with money is now available. Reach her at 425 451-3777.