The office holiday party is a tradition – a chance for you and your colleagues to celebrate the work you’ve done and take a breather before diving into the year ahead. What is also a tradition is that, invariably, one person at these parties gets a little too merry and makes a big faux pas that becomes the most talked about aspect of the party until the next year (“Hey, did you hear about Bob having too many martinis and carrying around mistletoe so he could try to kiss everyone?”). You want to make sure that person isn’t you! Here are a few ways to make the office party socializing strengthen your bonds and advance your career, instead of make you scared to show your face in the office:
Take This Chance to Turn Acquaintances into Friends
The recipe for friendship is simple: proximity, familiarity, similarity, and self-disclosure all help form tighter bonds, which is essential to a more productive and happier workplace. After-work activities like parties are one way to work on connecting. But you need to do it in the right way. Too often, people at office parties stick in a small clump with the people they already know and engage in banal small talk with the people they don’t. Venture outside your department and approach people you don’t meet as often, connect through your shared vocation to make the initial connection, and then boost your familiarity with each other through conversations that foster self-disclosure, such as “What person, living or dead, would you want to have dinner with?”
-a tip from BEST PLACE TO WORK
Don’t Drop the Ball
If you do end up making a new connection at the party, follow up! Even something like an email a few days later mentioning that you enjoyed speaking to them and suggesting grabbing lunch or coffee sometime soon can be enough to take you from a one-off encounter to someone the other person comes to consider a valuable member of the company. If you only connect to someone afterward to congratulate them on a promotion, you might as well be saying, “Now that you’re a success you’re of use to me.” Instead, be generous with your attention and time from the start.
Also, if you follow up with the person quickly enough after the party, you may jog their memory enough to avoid the risk that they were a tad too overwhelmed (or drunk) to remember meeting you at all!
-a tip from BUILD YOUR DREAM NETWORK
The holiday party is no place to air your personal grievances about your boss or coworker. You never know who is standing behind you as you complain—don’t risk damaging your working relationships. Of course, a lot of fellow partygoers are going to want to dish the dirt – parties are always considered a great time to let off steam. Try to redirect the conversation, and if that’s not working, extricate yourself. You don’t want to be guilty by association.
And what if the gossip is directed toward you? There are some people who will go beyond friendly teasing when they have an audience (or a few drinks). There will often be a malicious undertone to their comments. In that scenario, avoid becoming defensive and instead turn it back with a lighthearted jab at the teaser to defuse the immediate tension. Then, change the subject or walk away. Later, in private, deal openly with their hostility.
-a tip from WORKING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE
Don’t Drink Too Much
We would never say don’t drink at all when there’s free booze involved! But watch yourself closely. You don’t want to end up dancing on the bar or making out drunkenly with the intern. Stick to one type of drink all night, and alternate with a glass of water. #commonsense
~Post by Jeanette Shaw–a former TarcherPerigee editor now living the glamorous freelance life, which means yoga pants every day. She can be found at jseditorial.com.