A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Office Party Survival Tips
Once again, we are in the midst of the holiday season, and many of you
will be attending a celebratory event this year. With all of the
day-to-day pressures we face, a holiday party will be anticipated with
excitement or trepidation, and for those who see it as an opportunity to
‘let loose’, it could be the last event attended with their organization.
Sad, but true, there will be people who lose their jobs as a result of
their behavior at the holiday party, and others who are at risk for
harming their reputation.
Over the years, I've heard story upon story of embarrassing, and often
shocking behavior of coworkers at holiday parties. Too many people
mistakenly assume that at a holiday party is a place where "anything
goes", and willingly engage in unusual and unpredictable behavior, often
at the expense of others. Although the holiday office party is meant to be
enjoyable, exercise caution to ensure that you won't be the one everyone
talks about on Monday morning. You don’t want to be remembered for your
outrageous behavior, flirtatious manner or the stupor you were in.
If you don't handle yourself well at the holiday party, others may
assume that you can’t handle yourself anywhere, and you could hurt your
chances for advancement in the future. The holiday party is a business
event. You can and should enjoy yourself, but keep in mind that everything
you do has long term consequences and the potential to further or hinder
Several years ago I created a list of holiday party "do's and taboos",
and have run it each year as a friendly reminder. I offer the following
suggestions to keep in mind for the parties you attend this year:
Attend the party - failure to attend could be viewed negatively.
Think "business hours" not "party time".
Limit your alcohol consumption. Drink if you want, and only if
it is served, but don't get drunk. Alcohol is the biggest contributor to
inappropriate and regrettable behavior.
Dress for the occasion (which is business), and avoid wearing
anything too skimpy, sexy or suggestive.
Be the first to arrive, but not the last to leave.
Be generous with praise for others, but stingy with praise for
yourself. Don't brown-nose or brag about your accomplishments.
Take an interest in others, but don't assume they aren't too
interested in you. In other words, be a good listener, not a compulsive
Be friendly, but don't be a flirt.
Keep your hands to yourself. In business, the only acceptable
physical contact is through a handshake. If someone hugs you and you want
to hug back, fine, but don’t go around hugging everyone – there are people
who will feel awkward if you hug them.
Greet and speak to people outside of your core group of
coworkers and friends.
Keep the conversation light; avoid talking about work problems,
other people, politics or office gossip.
Think twice before bringing a casual date; unless you know
someone well, you won’t know how he/she may fare at the party.
Make appropriate introductions; when you introduce your guest or
spouse, include some information to provide the basis of a conversation..
Be an appreciative guest; greet your boss when you arrive and
say thank you when you
Use good taste if you are involved in a gift exchange. Forgo the
gag gift, but do consider a gift certificate to a restaurant, book store
or coffee shop or a useful office item.
Smile often, be positive and have a good time.
Finally, if you encounter something unusual or interesting at your
party this year, let me hear from you and I will share your story with
others in a future column. Happy Holidays!
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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