The office holiday party! Often the theme of satirical movies and laugh out loud scenes from our favorite sitcoms – where inappropriate behavior is plentiful and things always go awry. But this is real life, and no one wants to damage their careers and their reputations with the fall-out from office party don’ts. So here are a few tips to avoid embarrassing yourself, your coworkers and your company at your next holiday gathering.
• Do attend. While the event is usually “optional,” the holiday party is a work function, and attending shows your colleagues you are invested in the company. Even more important, if you say you’re going to attend, make sure you do – not showing up after you’ve RSVP’d yes is disrespectful to the hosts!
• Do wear something festive and tasteful. Save the skimpy or tight-fitting outfits for your non-work celebrations.
• Don’t talk shop. Yes, the party is a work event, but it’s a time to interact with your co-workers in a relaxed way. Save the discussion about the new software or your questions about a policy change for in the office. We know that shop talk might be inevitable at times, but it’s definitely not a time to be negative. If you feel negative about work and can’t hide it, it might be better not to attend.
• Don’t corner anyone. While it’s wonderful to chat with people you may not know as well, try to appropriately excuse yourself from the conversation after a reasonable amount of time so they don’t feel like a caged animal. Also, gatherings can be challenging for introverts – if you are an extrovert, it’s nice to give your quieter colleagues a hand and chat them up a bit (but not too much!)
• Don’t consume too much alcohol, do drink lots of water and do eat plenty of food! Give yourself a drink limit, and stick with it. If you end up being “over-served” call an Uber or designate a driver. You know – the stuff you learned about in college (since high schoolers are underage).
• Don’t forget your manners. Refer to party etiquette 101: use your napkin, don’t talk with your mouth full and do exercise restraint when you are offered hors-d’oeuvres.
• Don’t get pulled into any office drama from other co-workers who may have had too much to drink and may be letting the alcohol talk.
• Do behave appropriately with your date. Having a knockdown fight, or lots of PDA are both “don’ts” for work parties.
• Do thank the event planners. One or several of your colleagues spent considerable time planning the party; make sure you know who was responsible, and thank them for their efforts.
• Do leave at a reasonable time. Have fun and enjoy your night out, but don’t be the one to close down the bar or start a chant of “one more round.”
• Do leave a great impression. Have fun and enjoy yourself, but don’t leave yourself open for post-party gossip or act unprofessionally in any way. The bosses (and office gossips) are watching you in this environment.
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