Looking forward to the holiday party season? No? You’re not alone. But even if you don’t enjoy them, there are some things you just can’t do.
Only 1 in 4 of us actually look forward to our workplace holiday party. It’s not just the cost or the dread of being stuck with the office bore – there’s also the risk of doing something so embarrassing it’s career suicide.
So, what are the five things you should never, ever do?
1. Not Turning Up
It may be tempting to give the office party a miss. Yes, you may have to chip in for drinks, pay for a babysitter and spend your hard-earned cash on a taxi home. It’s a lot of money for an event you really don’t want to attend.
However, not going singles you out as an employee who is either: not committed to their company, antisocial, a miserable scrooge or someone who thinks they are above attending a ‘boring’ work event. None of these are things you want to be known for.
So go. You don’t have to drink excessively or stay too late, but you should attend.
TIP: Say you really want to come but you have to be at a meeting at 8am/the babysitter has to go at 10pm/you need to be at your spouse’s work event too (or a similar excuse). And for the few hours you are there make sure you look like you are having a good time.
2. Getting Drunk
Even if you work in a culture that doesn’t seem to have heard of #MeToo or where everyone is encouraged to do shots and dance on the tables, be aware of your behavior. If you want to get smashed, do it on your own time.
A work event, should be viewed as just that. Work. So, behave accordingly. If you make a joke that is in poor taste or engage in banter that can be seen as offensive, these can all be disciplinary matters leading to dismissal.
With smart phones and social media, you may not even be aware that your rude comment about the boss is being posted online or your sexually suggestive dancing with an embarrassed and unwilling colleague is trending. It’s hard to dispute evidence like that.
TIP: If you fear you will drink excessively or don’t want to drink alcohol, say you have left the car at the station and don’t want to drink-and-drive. Or set yourself a strict two drink limit. Your holiday party may only last a few hours – don’t let it ruin the rest of your working life.
Did you know? When it comes to the most embarrassing moments at work nearly 1 in 6 admit to getting “too” drunk at the work holiday party. Don’t let that be you.
3. Revealing too much – TMIs and PDAs
You’ve had a few drinks and are feeling a bit nervous – and that means you end up babbling. But in a bid to make your conversation more interesting you share too much information (TMI) on the gruesome details of your recent illness. Or a mile by mile account of your training schedule for your next triathlon.
Or your long-list of online dating disasters including all the intimate details, or every little thing your little ones have ever done with the photos to prove it.
Remember you need to have boundaries and know when to stop. Just because you are at a party, it doesn’t mean you should overshare. Nobody is interested, and if they are, it’s probably because you’re saying something you shouldn’t.
Anything you say can and probably will be used against you. Just because you have a hazy memory of the party, does not mean everyone else will. So revealing that you once snogged someone on a work trip might come back to haunt you.
The same applies to kissing your partner in front of your colleagues (keep your hands to yourself…until you get home). There is a time and place for everything and the work party is not one of them.
And if you are tempted to have a public display of affection (PDA) with a colleague, bear in mind that this can cause friction within your work team. And, as worst, it can even leave you open to claims of sexual harassment.
TIP: Drinking less can help you to realise when you need to shut up or your behaviour is getting out of line. If you are taking your other half along, ask them to interrupt you if you reveal too much and/or everyone appears bored.
4. Talking about Politics or Any Other Divisive Topic
There is nothing worse than someone asking you who you are voting for, if you are pro or against Brexit, or your opinion on any other political topic. So do not introduce this into any conversation.
If you are talking to someone more senior and they want to talk politics, it can be very awkward and you may feel you have to agree with them to avoid them thinking badly of you. Whatever you do, don’t get into an argument.
TIP: Change the subject, offer to buy a round, go to the toilet, or say you have to ring and check on the babysitter. Anything to avoid touching on politics unless you are absolutely sure you all agree on the subject.
5. Engaging in Office Politics
The other type of politics you need to avoid are office politics.
You may see the office holiday party as the perfect opportunity to get chatting to the boss about a promotion while he is in a good mood. Or see it as a chance to network with the right people.
The only problem is that they will see right through you. And you may be the 20th person to try the same thing at the same party.
So, introduce yourself (if they don’t know who you are) and if you want to get the conversation going stick to subjects that interest them.
TIP: It’s relatively easy to find out what people do in their spare time (just look on social media). So, if you want to start a conversation with someone senior talk about their hobby or other interest or find common ground.
Perhaps you went to the same uni, have volunteered with the same organisation or are both vegan and are avoiding the buffet. Make it about them, not about you. The aim is to leave a positive lasting impression.
Whatever you do, do not bad mouth anyone. Who knows who could overhear?!