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Surviving the Office Holiday Party Without Losing Face…OR Your Job

You know what they say, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! If you’re working for a company, chances are you have an upcoming holiday party to celebrate the season. For some people, the party is something to look forward to and a time to wind down, network up, and just have some relaxed fun. But let’s face it, nobody wants to deal with the fallout from a bad showing at a holiday party, especially if you’re a new hire, or this is the first big shindig you’ve been a part of with your company. So…let’s everyone, take a deep breath, maintain some respectability, and party without losing our ever-loving mind.

Top 5 mistakes to avoid during a company holiday party:

1. Too Many Adult Beverages. Okay, this seems like a no brainer, but don’t use the office party to get sloshed. If drinking alcohol is acceptable and part of the company scene, then let 1-2 be your max. Although this is a “party” it is still a company sponsored gathering and  is not the time to throw professionalism out the window in exchange for a night of letting loose. Of course there are company cultures that embrace this party mentality, but you really have to take note of the social ques, especially if you are the new guy (or gal). Losing control at the company holiday party sets up the possibility of your coworkers attributing your actions to potential issues in your personal life and may even extend into your work life. While alcohol and drug abuse are one of the top 10 reasons people get fired, the impression from a night of utter debauchery can remain for a long time. Don’t put yourself in that position. Even if your boss seems to have partaken of too much eggnog, keep your cool, have some drinks, but keep your head about you.

Here are some situations to avoid:

    • Gossiping about co-workers at the party. 
    • Revealing inappropriate personal information.
    • Complaining about the company or your boss.
    • A sudden need to find a trash can.
    • Dancing like nobody’s watching (because everyone is watching).
    • Flirting or “hooking up” with a co-worker. 

2. USING THE PARTY AS A CHANCE TO CLIMB THE COMPANY LADDER. Relax, this is a party. Yes, there will be some networking and probably some thoughtful conversations. But no one wants to feel like they’re a target, or a captive audience. The office party is not the time to make your play for a raise, promotion, or approval for something you want. Yes, meet people. ask questions to learn about your co-workers. show interest in others. But don’t try to leverage the time to work your angle of career advancement.

3. WALKING INTO THE PARTY WITH AN ENTOURAGE MENTALITY.  The scene: You walk in fashionably late along with a few of your office mates, with an “I’m here, now the party can begin!” swagger. This is a great way to alienate your co-workers. There’s power in being approachable, and it’s better to capitalize on. Maybe you are the life of the party and like to make a big entrance; that’s fine, if that’s your personality! But don’t surround yourself with people who will only serve as insulation so you don’t risk feeling alone throughout the night. Work the room, go and meet people you’ve never met. Now is not the time to hole up in the corner and wait for someone to come to you, having to work their way through your line of defense. If you’re nervous to venture out on your own, it’s totally appropriate to grab a co-worker and work the room as a pair. It can be a great strategy to make you and your partner feel more comfortable, as well as help with the flow of conversation. Don’t go it alone, but don’t insulate yourself. This may feel vulnerable, but that’s okay, you have the opportunity to meet some great people and develop new relationships.

4. BAH HUM BUG. If you are one of those people who doesn’t like the holiday season, don’t be a downer for the rest of the company. Maybe for you, it has deep personal struggles because of the reminders the season brings. Maybe you don’t have similar beliefs toward the celebration. That’s okay! But showing up to a party “because I have to,” only to talk about how unhappy you are or what all is wrong with the world will drive people away from you. I’m not saying to be fake, but a shift in your mentality might serve a great purpose. In this season of giving, it is a great opportunity to express your gratitude. Maybe it’s thankfulness for having a job, being surrounded by great co-workers, being loved by family, or maybe even just gratitude for a night out. Whatever it is, finding gratitude in the simplest of things can turn a challenging evening into a pleasant, and perhaps even uplifting event.

Whatever your outlook is, here’s to a fun celebration of the season. Stay in the moment, relax, and just have fun. Avoid these party fouls, enjoy your time with your co-workers, and everything will be just fine. Save face, keep your job…they’re both good to have.


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