“You moon the wrong person at an office party and suddenly you’re not ‘professional’ any more.”
Well that time of year has rolled around again: office party time. I have been to many work parties in my day and have been witness to uncanny acts of drunkenness and debauchery. I have seen the office party make and break many careers. I have seen people having sex, doing drugs and pillaging colleagues’ private files during this festive season. None of which ended well for anyone.
There have been many times in my corporate career that I wanted to just skip the office party. This, however, is never a good career move. Unless you have a legitimate family engagement, you should always make an appearance at your company’s shindig.
Your employer sees the office party as a reward — a time to build relationships and recognize your service. Not showing up is an insult, however showing up and being unprofessional is an even bigger one.
Here are my top five dos and don’ts for your holiday office party:
1. DON’T wear glitter. You want to look professional. Glitter is for strippers, albeit a legitimate profession, it’s not one you want your superiors to think you are associated with.
2. DO dress appropriately. As majestic as your legs, cleavage or pecs may be, putting them on parade at this event is not the wisest choice.
3. DON’T have game. This is an office party, not speed dating. Do not flirt with people, do not pick up, do not invite people (person) back for a night cap. The last thing you want to wake up to is some Coyote Ugly action. This could be a career-ending move.
4. DO mingle. It is very easy at these events to do what is familiar, and that is to chat with the same people you see every day. Use this party as an opportunity to meet new people. Smile, be friendly, chat with strangers — one day, they could be your favourite colleagues.
5. DON’T drink too much. The demise of any office party is an open bar. Yes this is supposed to be a fun event and you are supposed to let your hair down a little. However the key word here is LITTLE. Everything in moderation, and this includes martinis.
6. DO relax and have fun. I know it’s hard to do sometimes, especially given the above don’t, but it really is key to let your employers see another side of you. Anytime there’s a promotion up for grabs, employers are always looking for well-rounded individuals. You need to show them that you are one of those people.
7. DON’T be crude. This is not the best time to pull out your favourite, “So a guy walks into a bar…” joke. You never know what will turn people off: foul language, inappropriate jokes, too much cologne. It’s good to be funny and engaging, just be sure to keep it clean.
8. DO be funny and engaging. I know, I know — I hit a don’t with a do. It’s easy to be funny and engaging. Prep a little, read up on the latest movies or celebrity gossip. Some light-hearted and non-religious or political chat material is always key to have in your back pocket.
9. DON’T gossip. This is a surefire career killer. If you don’t like or have dirt on people you work with, it’s always best to keep it to yourself. You have no idea who is listening or who knows who. Besides, it only makes you look jealous and petty.
10. DO ask people questions. It’s a proven fact that people love to talk about themselves. I am sure you know people who have made it a sport. Let them yammer on all night long if you have to. Being a good listener is a fabulous trait to have in the workplace.
So did I miss something? Do you have a great office party do or don’t? Better yet, what is the craziest thing you have seen at one of these festive gatherings?
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Dee Brun is the award-winning author of Libations of Life: A Girl’s Guide to Life One Cocktail at a Time, a cocktail chef and stylist, TV personality, home entertaining guru, writer, humorist, wife, mother of 4, TV Junkie, shoe-aholic, and borderline George Clooney stalker. Read her column, Isn’t it Deelightful, every Friday on Slice.ca.