Friday, January 15, 2010

What NOT to do at an Office Party

This past holiday season many of you probably attended at least one office party. While these events are supposed to be fun filled occasions and a chance to build office camaraderie, they also are a prime opportunity to make a bad impression. The way people act away from the office is often very different than how they act in the office. On the positive side, it gives the employee a chance to feel more of a personal connection with their co-workers. On the other hand you can find out things about your co-workers you never really wanted to know.

First off, make sure to recognize that while this is indeed a party, it’s not a party like you would throw at your friend’s house. Treat it more like a meeting than a party. If you do this the following points below won’t matter and you can have a good time and keep your job.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to drink too much. Look, even if your boss seems cool with it and is drinking themselves, it doesn’t mean you should take this as an opportunity to relive your college days. Even if most of the people at the party are friends of yours, and people you hang out with outside of the office frequently, it only takes rubbing one person the wrong way to create a bad reputation around the office.

In addition, watch what you wear, and when in doubt, play it safe. Obviously you can dress a little less conservatively than you would at work, but keep it simple. You want to be remembered for what you say and what you do, not what you look like. In short, stay classy.

Also, don’t only talk about work. Being at an office party, work will inevitably come up in conversation. However, try discussing holiday or vacation plans rather than the report due next week. It’s important for people to know that you are a well rounded person and have a life outside of work too. At the same time, don’t bring up any hot button issues, like religion, politics, Tiger Woods, etc. People are all going to have differing opinions and only bad things can happen. If this ever does come up just simply say “You could be right.”

Lastly, when in doubt just talk about the weather. This is the universal conversation starter and especially comes in handy when it is cold. Everyone seems to like talking about how much they hate cold weather, and it’s amazing how much time people can spend talking about it.

In conclusion, have fun at your office parties. But remember that you have to see these same people everyday and some of them sign your pay sheets. It’s important to have fun, but more important to stay professional. Thanks for reading everyone!

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