Have you attended your office holiday party yet? ‘Tis the season for office workers everywhere to break free from their cubicles and corner offices and spend some time in a relaxed, purely social environment. These events are a great way to strengthen relationships or develop new ones and, while you shouldn’t show up with the obvious intention of furthering your career, to hang out with your boss and others who could have a positive influence on where your professional life goes over the next several years.
There are the obvious reminders that you hear every year. The biggest one probably is, if you drink at all, not to consume too much alcohol. Suddenly, your dislike of the boss and your demise to undermine your office nemesis are revealed during a moment of ill-advised honesty and you will be busy with damage control well into 2012.
You also need to stay professional. While the fine suit you wear to court or to sales pitch meetings may not be required for this Friday evening affair, remember that you also are not attending a college party or a nightclub. Whether you work in the mail room or are the CEO, keep your dress conservative. The holiday party is a chance for your co-workers to get to know another side of you, but not to the point that they change the perception they hold of you at your desk on Monday morning.
Finally, watch your body language. Forbes has a great piece online about how personal space, a strong handshake, and positive eye contact can go a long way in making the most out of the conversations you hold with others that night. Check out the article and be aware of how you are presenting yourself at these functions.
I don’t write all this to keep you from simply letting your guard down a bit and having a blast at your party. These events should be fun! But, by putting some thought into your behavior beforehand, you will increase your chances of a great evening that doesn’t have negative consequences when you return to the office.
What is your advice for those attending office parties? Are there discussion topics that are off-limits? Are neckties optional? Share some of your dos and don’ts.