Came across this quote from one of those wise old Greeks, Philo of Alexandria: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." It reminds—none too gently—that we seldom know as much as we might imagine about the person across the table—or a spouse or child, for that matter.
In my experience, Philo, our Greek guide, got it exactly and frighteningly right. Hidden from sight is an ailing parent, a life-long battle with excess weight, abiding shyness, or whatever/s. This "great battle" colors our mate's or employee's every action.
I am not counseling "going easy" as a boss, or some such. I am counseling understanding (compassion) and listening. 100% of the time. As leaders in particular, we have a sacred trust—as well as a job to get done. The great coaches, such as Duke's Coach K, understand that. And any Army leader, sergeant or general officer, understands. So, too, must you and I. Compassion and thoughtfulness are always merited—and Christmas is a particularly good time to think on this subject near the center of humanness at work or at home.
[Picture by Tom above: The many colors of flowers in an Amsterdam flower market.]