How to Avoid Holiday Office Party Blunders

We are all invited to open houses, office parties and holiday dinners. Some of us are dragged! Here are some tips to turn those occasions into opportunities for success!


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    Don't Skip the Party
    • Thinking of not attending? Think twice. Your presence is mandatory if you expect to attain or maintain visibility within your organization. If office parties are your idea of a root canal approach the party as a task that you will succeed at making into a worthwhile investment of your time.
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    Do not Forget to Wear Your Smile and Make a Positive Impression
    • This is the time to make those around you feel comfortable and enjoy getting to know you. Appear approachable in your body language with good posture (no slouching!), eye contact and a warm smile. Appear relaxed even if you have to fake it, as no one wants to spend time with someone ill-at-ease or nervous. You participate in activities, devote time to hobbies, maybe you like sports and travel. You might even have attended the same school as someone you work with. This is the time to find out. Anyone will be delighted to learn that members of their team are actually multi-faceted human beings.
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    Remember to leave the Uninvited Guests at home.
    • Get a babysitter! Odds are great that your colleagues do not share in your delight for your children's company. It has become less common to have family members at parties due to budget cuts. Bring your spouse or partner if it is clear that is the expectation. Never make assumptions.
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    Never Make Assumptions About Who You Are Talking To
    • Are you certain of this person's position or alliances within the company? Probably not, so skip the gossip and negative comments of any kind. Prepare by reviewing a company directory in order know people's names and be ready for introductions
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    Remember where you are at. Don't Wear Your "Cup Runneth Over" Cleavage or Your Tattered Harley Davidson T-Shirt.
    • Despite encouragement from the executive suite that the office holiday party is a great time to "enjoy", "relax" and "just have fun," odds are that does not mean wear the clothes you are the most relaxed in or have the most fun in, be it skimpy tops, or the jeans you wore to the Blink 182 concert. Imagine how unsettling it is to see extra skin on the boss or cubicle buddy, or what an unprofessional lasting image those jeans left behind. And its an image not quickly forgotten when you are at your next quarterly revenue meeting requesting additional budget increases.
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    Absolutely, do not get Drunk and Tell Your Boss How You REALLY Feel
    • Cocktails make for loose lips that sink ships! Watch your intake to insure your mind moves faster than your mouth. Abstinence for this party is a wise and risk free plan.
    • Anxiety is directly related to increased alcohol intake so if you must imbibe, just take a few sips, or water down your drink so it lasts a lot longer. As friendly as your boss is at the office party this is not the time to ask for a raise, mention a friend who is looking for a job, or offer your opinion about the lousy coffee provided the break room.
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    Don't Limit Your Conversation to "Shop Talk"
    • You approach the Manager of Test, introduce yourself and then, well, what do you say? Guess what? He or she is probably is not hoping for an update on the project your team is in the thick of. If you like, you can keep the conversation work-related, just not specific to the current work you are doing: "Tell me about your career path in human resources..." or some favorites opening for these occasions: "What keeps you busy outside of work?" or "Tell me about your holiday plans...". People enjoy talking about themselves, especially when they perceive a genuine interest.
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    Move around. Don't just Mingle Only With Your Best Office Cronies
    • It is tempting to remain in your comfort zone, talking with the people you meet regularly within your department or enjoy lunch with a couple times a week. Instead, your company party may be the only time you have all year for a face to face conversation with the CEO. The office party is an opportunity to get to know new people and enjoy the chance for others to get to know you. Invest the effort in making sure the people who should know that you are there, know that you are there. Circle the room and say hello to your boss, her husband and other decision makers and executives. Push yourself and introduce yourself to people you don't know.
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    Remember. You're not at the local bar.
    • If the invitation requires an RSVP, promptly respond either way; if the office party is being hosted at a home, bring a host/hostess gift; and even if the party is in a grand ballroom, thank your hosts or boss before you leave. If the boss is accompanied by his or her spouse do not wait to be "properly introduced" or you will be taken for a snob. Treat the service people as you would members of your family with graciousness and kindness. And do not be the last to leave a party, you do not want to be remembered as the last person to take leave of the party.
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    Never Assume People Will Forget Your Blunder
    • So, you stepped in it. You insisted that children in private schools gained a far better education. You expressed your disgust with those that purchase foreign cars rather than American made and she's drives a BMW. You shared an anecdote that is inappropriate. Now make amends. Apologize. Let your boss or teammate know what happened before they hear it through the grapevine. Get out in front of the problem. The mistake might not matter as much as how you handle what comes after it, experts say. So deal with it and move on.

Sources and Citations

  • The Fine Art of Small Talk How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills - and Leave a Positive Impression (Hyperion) by Debra Fine

Article Info

Categories: Parties