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Lessons in How to Have the Last Laugh

Show me a workplace that hasn't had drama, and I'll show you a consultant who doesn't want to change your logo. But as I learned years ago from the birthday incident, drama doesn't have to have the last word. And it shouldn't.

How I Learned to Write a Better Ending

To make a long story short, the last time I celebrated my birthday with co-workers, it was—to use the old expression—“a disaster.”

Like most all-in-good-fun disasters, this one eventually became funny.

Picture getting flowers at the office from a friend far away, followed by your boss and co-workers huddling and whispering a few feet away. They forgot my birthday, which is fine. I’m not six.

But now they feel driven to do something—before lunch! And because this was my first birthday in this office, I must have needed the validation. So I let them. Kiss of death.

I'll spare you the details, except to say somewhere Don Rickles was laughing. Maybe taking notes. I love that my nephew James actually registered the URL Who among us could not contribute at least one good story?

Fast Forward to the Following Year

My co-workers and I have far bigger fish to fry than anyone's bad birthday—and by now, I'm by no means the only one in the office who's had one. In one of my wiser moves, I quietly arrange to take my birthday off.

I do, and it's pure joy. This, despite the fact that it's a rainy Tuesday and a “decade” birthday, one that too many people have a hard time with.Call it denial, but I just don't.

On the contrary, I found it incredibly freeing. The weekend birthday bash in Chicago didn't hurt—but that's another story for another day. The point is:

What changes in your routine would bring more freedom for you?

Better Birthdays are Just the Beginning

For what it's worth, at review time my boss in that job always gave me off-the-charts praise for teamwork. Turns out it's a lot easier to be a team player when you include yourself in the equation. Translation: Take care of yourself.

That birthday became a template for how Life can take any bad situation, from the silly to the serious, and bring good out of it, often unimaginable good—as long as we're willing to do our part.

For example, you have probably known folks who came from tough childhoods, yet they grew up to be wise, loving parents. Or people who have little to their name, yet they always have something good to share.

Both outcomes started with a decision.

On the other hand, you have probably also known folks who were snubbed inadvertently by a colleague or a classmate and never really got past it. Or those who use their past as an excuse to mistreat others.

These, too, are decisions—even if they're not deliberate. The question is, which group would you rather be around?

Conflict Is Not the Issue

As I'm sure you've figured out, conflict is inevitable—but how you choose to handle it can make all the difference.

Choose well. In a matter of hours, your head will finally hit the pillow. Make the decisions today that will leave you smiling tonight. Better yet: Make the decisions day in, day out that will leave you smiling for a lifetime.

P.S. Could your organization use a speaker/listener to help you diffuse the drama? Maybe create more respect so your entire team can thrive? Here's a quick way for you to tell me more.

Choose well. Make the decisions that will leave you smiling for a lifetime.

Gina DeLapa

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Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at