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Santa's Secret

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Santa’s Secret
Beata Balla
Florida Institute of Technology

Secret Santa is a game that many people played growing up and some still play among friends, family, and in the workplace. This paper explains the secret Santa game and more importantly reveals true personalities, values, and behaviors of others in a group like setting. The purpose of this game is to essentially discover how far people will go to find out whom the secret Santa is in each group and how beneficial or worthy the rewards are for those individuals who go to great lengths to either manipulate each other or stay true to other team members. Individual personality differences are highlighted and explained as the game unfolds and teams are evaluated for their ability to stay faithful to their team members.

Santa’s Secret Purpose of the Secret Santa Game
I work in a hospital where we have holiday gatherings and parties every year. Nurses and other healthcare professionals traditionally take part in the secret Santa game and buy gifts for each other. Because the holidays are quickly approaching, I decided to devise a game based on the prisoner’s dilemma called Santa’s secret. There are four individuals in each team with a total of three teams, one for each shift-morning, evening, and night shift. One person from each team is the designated “secret Santa” in which their role is to think of a gift to buy for the other team. The members of a team all know who their own secret Santa is but do not know who the secret Santa is on other teams. My manager will be the outsider and will decide who the secret Santa will be for each team and later evaluate the teams. I will give each team rules that they have to abide by and will also be assigning rewards/punishments based on the final outcomes of the game. Each team will have exactly one week to find out who the secret Santa is on other teams. Rewards and Punishments
There are three possible rewards and two possible punishments for the teams. The first reward goes to the team in which their secret Santa remained a secret and the other teams were not able to find out who the person was. This team receives a holiday party during the shift that they work (morning, evening, or night shift). The second reward goes to the team that was able to find out the secret Santa from one of the teams but not the other. This team receives a holiday party during their shift as well as a holiday off of their choice. The third and final reward will go to the team that was able to find out who the secret Santa’s were on both teams and they would receive 2 holidays off of their choice in the upcoming year as well as four gift cards (one for each member) to a restaurant of their choice valued at $25 each. There are also two punishments given to the team(s) in which their secret Santa did not remain a secret. The first punishment states that the losing team has to work an extra holiday of the winning team’s choice in the upcoming year. The second punishment goes to the individual who was caught giving up their secret Santa (giving clues to other teams). This punishment includes forfeiting holiday overtime for two holidays worked in the upcoming year. Punishments are included along with rewards to make this game more interesting and really evaluate individual personalities. Game Rules
Each team is allowed to go to other teams and bribe them or offer gifts to give up their secret Santa. They are allowed to ask for clues and do whatever it takes to find out who the secret Santa is on the other teams. Members of the morning shift try to bribe the evening shift to give up who their Santa is and vice versa. Night shift team members do the same with the morning and evening shifts. Basically, everyone is allowed to go to any other team to try and bribe them with gifts or other incentives to make the other team spill their secret. Every member has freedom of choice and freedom of speech in this game, they can choose to accept bribes and give clues to other teams at their own risk. They can also choose to remain quiet and not disclose any information if they do not want to. Evaluations
After one week of bribing, influencing, and trying to get other teams to give up their secret Santa, the winners and losers are decided. Each team reports to the manager with their final opinions and decisions about who they believe the secret Santa is on other teams. The morning shift is the winner of the first reward because none of the other teams found out their Santa, thus, they receive a holiday party for their shift. The winner of the second prize goes to the evening shift because they were able to find out the secret Santa of the night shift. The winner of the third and greatest prize was also the morning shift because they were able to guess both evening shift’s and night shift secret Santa; they win the two holidays off and the gift cards (along with the holiday party already won because no one was able to guess who their Santa was). Furthermore, even though the evening shift was technically supposed to receive a holiday party and a holiday off for guessing a secret Santa, they forfeit their holiday off because the morning shift was able to find out who their secret Santa was. After evaluating who the winners of the game were, the losers were also assessed. The night shift was the losing team because they were not able to guess anyone’s Santa and they have to work an extra holiday (that the morning shift chooses) in the upcoming year and do not win any parties or other gifts. One member of the night shift was also caught giving up their Santa to the morning shift, and thus has to forfeit holiday overtime for two holidays in the upcoming year. Moreover, one of the members of the evening shift saw this night shift member accepting a gift from the morning shift to give up their Santa. Personality Assessments Reflecting in Participants’ Behaviors
The morning shift was the clear winner of the most prizes because they stayed true to each other but were not afraid to go to other teams and bribe them to find out their secret. The morning shift decided that they were not going to accept any gifts from other teams because they wanted to win the game. Furthermore, to win the game, they were also not afraid to manipulate and influence other teams to give up their own Santa as well as other teams’ secrets. The morning shift was the most aggressive because they were not afraid to influence other teams to spill their secrets. They were also fair to their own teammates because they were not going to betray each other for any means.
The evening shift was somewhat equalitarian and aggressive because they did not reveal their secrets to every team that bribed them, just to one team (morning shift) because the incentive was great, thus they were willing to take the risk of giving up night shift’s Santa (after discovering who that person was) for an incentive. They figured if they were not going to be the big winners, they might as well enjoy the incentive. Some members of the evening shift were more aggressive than others, thus the reason for the morning shift finding out the most secrets.
The night shift was the most introspective because although they wanted to win the game, they ended up losing in the end because they were not good at keeping their secrets and were also not good at bribing other teams to give up their own secrets. They spent too much time thinking on which strategies to utilize and were not assertive enough like the other two teams. Members of this team take time out to think about how they want to proceed before actually making any quick decisions. However, in the end, this way of thinking although good in most situations, did not work for them and they ended up losing and have to work a holiday in the upcoming year. There was one person from the night shift that was trying to be assertive but this person ended up getting caught and spilling the secret for her team and thus forfeiting overtime pay for two holidays that she will have to work next year.
Perceptions of Ourselves and Others
The way we perceive ourselves and the way others perceive us can be totally different or it can be quite similar. The assessments (in the textbook) break up individuals into four categories: fair, assertive, equalitarian, and introspective. I believe that although I scored myself to be more introspective, I am fair as well. I was in the morning shift team and most of the morning shift team members are more assertive than I am. However, I too can be assertive at times, but not in all circumstances. I believe that my perception of myself in this situation is similar to how others perceive me. I am perceived to be quieter and introverted than other people I work with. Others can also perceive us differently if they do not know us too well and if we act differently around others than we would around our family and friends. Some perceptions can be misleading if certain individuals disguise their true personalities around other people.
Informal Roles during the Game
Some participants were more aggressive and manipulating than they were in real life. The rewards and punishments played a significant role in determining individual actions and behaviors. For some people, the rewards were enough to become very competitive but for others, the rewards or punishments did not influence their decision making and strategy when playing the game. Some participants chose not to betray their team members while others did because the incentives were worth more to them. This is not to say that these people are dishonest and untrustworthy in real life, the game might have just gotten the best of them because they really wanted to compete with others. The informal roles of the participants were similar during the planning of the game and playing the game because people still behaved the way that they thought was going to give them an advantage in the end. Some people knew from the beginning that they were not going to betray their own team while others were planning on betraying others just to get ahead in the game.
What did I learn about myself? I learned that in given situations such as this secret Santa game, I acted the way I would have in any other situation. I am not really a competitive person and try not to betray others just because there are prizes or incentives involved. I could have acted differently like the rest of my team and bribed others into giving up their secrets but even for the purposes of the game, I felt that manipulating people is not really worth it in the end. I also felt that other teams made me somewhat anxious because I did not want to betray my own team members for incentives and felt pressured to give clues. What I learned about Someone Else in the Exercise I learned that other teams acted in different ways that were negative and positive in ways. The evening shift team gave clues to the morning shift team for incentives and betrayed the night shift team. Some team members just remained quiet and did not help other teams find out who each other’s secret Santa was. Thus, they felt like I did, they were not going to betray their own team or others to help another team. I also learned that many people behave differently in game like situations because they have a different mentality when playing because they believe that no one is meant to get hurt or betrayed and it is all for fun. I too think this is true to an extent but I still would not betray people just for a couple of prizes. Strategies that Increase Cooperative Behaviors To increase cooperative behaviors, I would have somehow convinced everyone to keep their secret Santa a secret and not disclose any information to other teams, no matter how small or great the incentives were for giving clues. This way no one would know who each other’s Santa was and no one would receive any punishments, and everyone would receive at least the holiday party reward. This would have been hard for some teams to do because of the competitive nature that some people have when it comes to playing games. On the other hand, if I would have had everyone tell others who their Santa was, everyone would still essentially win a reward and a punishment because they told each other who the secret Santa was for each team. Key Factors Involved in Gaining Cooperation from People in a Business Setting Some key factors involved in gaining cooperation from people in a business like setting include honesty, team work, and rewards/punishments at times. Honesty is important in gaining the cooperation of others because without honesty, groups of people cannot work together without getting into arguments and conflicts. Team work is also important because other team members have to be able to depend on each other and work together toward a common goal. Rewards and punishments are also necessary in certain situations where there is little motivation to complete a task that is undesirable or in situations where time is of importance. These key factors as well as effective communication are necessary in gaining cooperation from people in a business setting. Furthermore, effective communication allows for others to voice their ideas and opinions to each other and allows for discussion among team members. Cooperation from a Difficult Co-worker There are some people in the hospital where I work that I would categorize as “difficult” co-workers. In order to gain cooperation from a difficult co-worker, I would first try to talk to the person rationally and explain the advantages over the disadvantages in cooperating with others. I would try not to raise my voice or belittle the person because this would just make the person more unwilling to cooperate. Instead, I would talk to him/her in a calm and collected manner and encourage other people to talk to the person as well to try and convince him/her to cooperate. I would also utilize the manager’s help in getting the person to cooperate because the manager has greater authority than employees and the person might listen to the manager better. I would also want to know reasons the person does not want to cooperate and try to help the person fix or at least get past these reasons for the benefit of the team. I work with nursing assistants on a daily basis and there are a couple of them that do not want to pull their own weight and assist nurses when they are stressed or too busy. This behavior makes me frustrated at times because it is no fair that they can get away with not doing their work while others work until they are burned out. I would like to sit down with these individuals and truly assess the reasons behind their lack of motivation and cooperation with others on the unit. I would also like to help them with this problem and encourage them to do their work because it is more beneficial to work as a team than as individuals. Furthermore, I would like them to realize that no one is against them and everyone is working not for themselves, but for the benefit of the patients.

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