Tis the Season
By Thomas P. Farley, What Manners Most
The time for holiday parties is upon us. Although many of these get-togethers will be diversions you’ll look forward to with great anticipation, in the case of annual office gatherings, you may not be quite so psyched. These soirées are work quite literally. There are politics to avoid. Sexual advances to be spurned. And lest we forget, sobriety (and by extension, propriety) to be maintained. At a company party, if you make one false move, you could wind up ending the year with a whole lot less to celebrate. On the other hand, if you play your cards right, you just might find that the benefits extend far beyond a night of salty canapés and an open bar.
Here’s my advice for how to conduct yourself at your company’s annual holiday gathering:
R.S.V.P.: As with any party you attend, you should always respond quickly. Most corporations have transitioned to electronic invites for these events, so you have even less excuse to let the invite slip by without replying. Getting your response in early will show you’re an engaged staff member.
RSVP Part Deux: Make sure your response is yes. This is one gathering you don’t want to miss. (Even if deep down you do want to miss it.) Why should you go? You’ve got a great shot at making an impression on higher-ups who may not know your name. (Or burnishing your reputation with the ones who do.) And it goes without saying here, but I’ll say it nonetheless: Do not say yes and then be a no-show. That’s worse than declining the invite in the first place.
Sober Reality: Never let a free kamikaze cocktail lure you into a kamikaze mission of another sort. There’s nothing wrong with engaging in a little tipple, but rest assured that there are far better times to let loose than when your boss and co-workers are all watching. Remember: If your boss didn’t see your impromptu dance involving a lampshade live, you know he or she will catch the replay on Facebook. And it won’t be pretty.
Tag-Teaming: If your company is one of the rare firms that still has money in the budget to open the party to significant others, talk strategy with your plus-one before your arrival. The key is that you are there to mingle-not to cling. Do: Work the room together. Don’t: Huddle in the corner pointing out your office frenemies.
What’s Your Hurry?: You needn’t be the first to arrive (or the last to leave), but be sure to put in some quality face time. See the people you need to see and make sure that anyone who reports to you gets to bend your ear for a few minutes, too. When you’ve decided the time has come to head out, do so discreetly; there’s no need to kill the party’s buzz by making a big deal of your departure.
Follow-up: The day after the party, make sure you thank your boss and any other personnel responsible for planning the festivities, letting them know what a wonderful time you had. Even if you didn’t enjoy yourself, you still need to say thank-you. And do so like you mean it.
As water-cooler chat in the days after the party migrates to whispers about the ruffians in accounting, thanks to your measured behavior, you’ll still be able to hold your head high. And the good news is that you’ve got a whole fifty-two weeks to practice your self-control for the next go-around.
Visit What Manners Most for more.