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Dec 13, 201811:43 AMOpen Mic

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Do’s and don’ts of the holiday office party

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It’s time for the annual office holiday party. This is much more than just a celebration of the season. It’s a test, and you better believe that management is watching very carefully. So, how can you perform at your best?

Do RSVP: Be sure to respond to an invitation with 48 hours, regardless of whether it comes via social media, email, telephone, or traditional methods. As much as you may not wish to attend, you must. Attendance is practically mandatory — failing to go to the annual holiday party sends a negative message. Executives and upper management will take note.

Do arrive and depart on time: Pay attention to the time that you arrive and when you leave. Arriving fashionably late is inappropriate. Do not arrive early, but do plan to arrive within the first 15–20 minutes. Even if you truly do not want to attend, avoid arriving 30 minutes before the end just to make an appearance.

Don’t bring an extra guest: Be sure to read the invitation carefully. Know the company policy on guests, or whether the event is employees only or allows for a plus one. Discreetly check ahead of time to determine whether spouses or dates are welcome.

Do greet hosts, colleagues, and party planners: When you arrive at the party, be sure to greet, thank, and shake hands with your hosts and the party planners. If it is a company or partnership owned by more than one individual, be sure to thank all of them. Chat briefly and compliment an aspect of the party that you sincerely enjoyed, such as the catering, music, or décor. Limit this to five minutes and move on.

Don’t hide in the corner: Everyone watches the entrance to a room. When you arrive, do not head straight for the bar or buffet. Enter, pause, step to the right, greet and shake hands with the person standing there. Executives enjoy speaking with employees. Your company party may be one of the few times you see them in person. Introduce yourself, state the department you work in, and shake hands. This is a good time to become visible to your organization’s leadership. Greet your superiors and chat with as many colleagues as you can, introducing yourself to those who you do not know well. Greet co-workers warmly and with a smile on your face. Resist the urge to spend the entire evening with your office buddies — get in the spirit and mingle with people from other departments. At all costs, avoid appearing bored and ready to dash for the door.

Do watch the topics of conversation: Strive to keep business talk to a minimum! When socializing with business colleagues it can be difficult not to talk shop. Instead, view the office party as an opportunity to get to know colleagues a little better on a personal level. Stay with topics such as travel, children, sports, pets, and movies. Remember to avoid politics, sex, and religion. Keep discussions positive and no more than five to 10 minutes. Avoid gossiping, complaining, and bragging. The party is intended to be a time to celebrate the successes of the year. A cheerful mood is in order!


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