The office Christmas party; an occasion that’s notorious for encouraging your fellow work colleagues to drink lots of alcohol, dance suggestively with each other and spread gossip that would surely have been better kept quiet.
If you’ve never been to a office Christmas party before, or if you made a bit of a show of yourself at last year’s bash, the following are some tips to ensure that you survive this year’s office party without causing yourself embarrassment or getting into trouble with the boss.
Remember that it is a business function. Although the office Christmas party is a time to relax and enjoy yourself after a hard year of work; if it’s company-sponsored, then it’s a business function, and that means you have to be on your best behaviour. After the event, you still have to work with these people, and if you act inappropriately, you’ll be remembered; but for all the wrong reasons.
Do attend. You don’t have to be the last one to leave the event, but you should make every effort to attend. Even if you can’t think of anything worse than spending a whole evening with the people you work with everyday, it’s still a good idea to make an appearance. Attending shows that you’re part of the team and that you’re a sociable, fully rounded person who gets along with his colleagues. If you’re pressed for time, make sure you say hello to everyone, and then discretely leave. If anyone asks why you’re leaving early; don’t make excuses. Just say that you didn’t think that you’d be able to attend the party at all, but you still made it because you wanted to see everybody.
Dress appropriately. Check the dress code which will usually be determined by the venue or the theme of the party. When it comes to picking an outfit, it’s all about getting the balance right. You don’t want to come across as boring, just as you don’t want to appear unprofessional. “How to Dress for the Office Christmas Party,” explains how to look your best and make a good impression.
Network and socialize. It may be a business function, but it’s a good opportunity to get to know your colleagues and enjoy yourself. Don’t spend the entire evening with your usual clique. Introduce yourself to as many people whom you don’t know, especially upper management.
Try not to talk about work unless you really have to. Don’t talk shop unless you want to be labelled as the office bore. Use the Christmas party as an opportunity to get to know your colleagues on a more personal level. Show that you have a variety of interests. Avoid bragging about your accomplishments and talking about anything work-related. Remember, don’t just talk – be sure to listen too.
Watch your language. Always assume that you’re being watched and judged. Avoid saying things that you wouldn’t say on a normal working day in the office.
Try to avoid arguments and Christmas party gossip. Don’t discuss disagreements or grievances with colleagues. Keep the conversation away from controversial topics, and don’t gossip or make inappropriate jokes. Doing so may result in a fight or offending the wrong person. Maintain a friendly and positive attitude at all times.
Don’t get drunk. It can be difficult to take it easy when the alcohol is flowing, especially when it’s a free bar. Excessive drinking is the number one cause of office party incidents. Drink in moderation and pace yourself – remember that you have a long evening ahead of you.
Don’t make a move on a work colleague. After a few drinks, chatting up the hot secretary that you’ve had your eye on all year may seem like a good idea. But if it goes wrong you may find yourself subject to a sexual harassment complaint. Studies have shown that one third of couples meet at work and given the amount of time you spend there, it’s hardly surprising. However, using the Christmas party to make your move on a colleague is not a good game plan. If you’re seriously thinking about hitting on a girl in the office, make sure you read “Dating Women in the Workplace: Pros and Cons” first.
Do enjoy the party. Though the tips above will help you get through the Christmas party, it’s still important that you enjoy yourself. Yes, it is a business event, but your company spends a lot of money to reward the staff after a hard year of work. So it’d be a shame not to take advantage of it. Look at it as an opportunity to socialize and have fun with your work colleagues. Anyway, if you act respectable, even when others aren’t, there are lots of ways to have fun without harming your professional reputation.