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Protect Your Career: Holiday Office Parties Dos and Don’ts

In Living on December 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm
‘Tis the season to socialize with your coworkers. Here’s how to have fun while keeping it professional. Party time. It doesn’t matter whether your employer is holding this year’s holiday party at the office or off site. Nor does it matter if it takes place at lunchtime or after hours. It’s still a work-related event. Repeat: a work-related event.
What does this mean?
Leave the low-cut party dress in the closet. Yes, you look stunning in it. You’ll wow everyone. You may even be the center of attention—but this isn’t the kind of attention you want.
Still not convinced? Picture overhearing your coworkers talking about how your girls had a night out. Uh huh.
The same rule applies to dresses, skirts, and tops that are too short or too tight.
This doesn’t mean you can’t wear something a little more festive; just remember it should be appropriate. When in doubt, err on the side of conservative.
Watch your alcohol intake. You may think you can hold your liquor, but don’t risk going anywhere near your perceived limit at a work-related event.
For one thing, your true limit is probably less than you realize. And, more importantly, one too many drinkscan turn you into a babbling fool or worse.
If you find yourself feeling the effects, switch to a non-alcoholic beverage. Better safe than sorry (there’s a reason it’s a cliché).
Avoid behavior that might be construed as flirtatious. Okay, you already know not to sidle up to an attractive coworker with a drink in your hand while batting your eyelashes.
But other behavior, such as standing too close to the other person, also sends a message.
Resist the urge to gossip. In social situations, the conversation often veers away from work.
One of the topics people tend to talk about is other people. Some conversations are innocent enough, as in, “I met Jane’s sister at the gym. What a lovely person she is.”
Other conversations, however, clearly are not going down a good path. If a person says, “I met Jane’s sister at the gym. She’s not nearly as attractive as people say she is,” it’s time to change the subject or move on to a conversation with another person.
Mind your manners. It sounds basic, but it can be easy to forget some of the simple things, especially if you’re a little nervous.
When your manager’s boss comes up to you and asks if you’re enjoying the party, you don’t want to talk with food in your mouth.
Similarly, you don’t want to wolf down your meal, even if you are famished.
You also want to be polite and gracious to your host. Sure, it’s a work-related event, but you should still thank the person responsible for the party and wish him or her a happy holiday season.
If you sincerely (key word) had a great time and the event was spectacular, you might want to seek out the party planner(s) as well and let them know you enjoyed yourself.
Remember your position. This last point often gets overlooked and, as a result, can be a source of confusion.
In a social situation, people generally become more relaxed. But this doesn’t mean the corporate hierarchy has vanished.
Joe CEO is still the CEO; he’s not suddenly your buddy Joe. Similarly, people who report to your direct reports aren’t members of your new hang-out-and-party gang.
This doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly to one and all. You can and should socialize. Here again, though, don’t lose sight of the big picture.
After the holiday party is over and you return to work, Joe CEO won’t be hanging out in your cubicle. Likewise, you don’t want to give workers who report to your staff members the impression that you are their new best friend.
Party hearty. Once you know how to turn your party animal into a cool cat, you can enjoy the festivities of the season and maintain—perhaps even enhance—your professional standing at work.
-via Single Minded Women/ photo credit Doozy Fab
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