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How To Impress At Your Holiday Office Party - By Chris Gearing

Friday, December 03, 2010

As the season of office parties begins full tilt this holiday season, many of us will be tempted to let loose and have a little too much fun. But a new study reports that around 40% of us have been embarrassed at a holiday party and a shocking 23% of attendees have been reprimanded for their misbehavior.

So why do so many people get in hot water at the annual holiday party?

There is a basic misconception about these parties - this is a business event and you must remember that. Even if it’s supposed to be social, similar office expectations prevail. Your boss and coworkers do not want to see you dancing the night away after drinking too much! They want to see the relaxed, congenial side of your personality behaving appropriately. Whether it is fair or not, you are being evaluated on some level by everyone in the room. The bottom line is that you can use the office party to enormously enhance your career or you can land yourself in a heap of trouble.

More than 1 in 10 Americans say they know someone who has been fired for their inappropriate behavior at a holiday party.

Here are a few ways to get in trouble at the office party:

  • Saying Something Inappropriate to a Colleague or Boss
  • Drinking Too Much – please stop at 2 drinks and nurse them throughout the event.
  • Hooking Up with a Coworker
  • Disinterested and Arrogant Behavior
  • Overly Friendly or Familiar Behavior
  • Forgetting Someone’s Name – take a look at the nametags!

Looking to make a good impression at this year’s holiday party? Here are the do’s-and-don’t’s to have a great time AND impress your boss:

Please Limit Alcohol: Even though that open bar looks inviting, that is the last place you need to park yourself. Have a drink or two and then chase it with club soda. Never, ever get drunk at the party—it is career suicide.

Talk It Up: Use the event to demonstrate how conversational you can be. Since most business, especially at the higher executive levels, requires an excellent ability to interact well with others socially. If you’re looking for a promotion, it is vital that you work the room: move with confidence, sincerely show interest in others, and shake everyone’s hand.

Dress Well: The office party is not a time to deck yourself out with your most seductive attire. Remember, this is a business event so you need to be festive but professional. Your boss and other superiors may not make the rounds in your direction but they will get a glimpse of you and you want that moment to serve you well. Reserve the wild ties and low cut dresses for your personal party time.

Don’t Gossip: Please come prepared to talk about something other than your job—your children, their children, the best hamburger in town, etc. Most of all, avoid gossip that can be repeated by your inebriated coworkers. Office parties mixed with booze are renowned for inspiring inappropriate disclosures.

Follow Up: A lot of people are careless about making promises at office parties to provide information—like a phone number or a business lead—and then fail to follow up. This is a huge mistake since people tend to only remember what you don’t do for them. Following up is an opportunity for you to gain credibility by being the one person who actually sends the information after the party is over. People truly appreciate the self-discipline such efforts require.

Make Some Friends: We know from new research that social interactions are like medicine. In fact, a review of 148 studies found that socially connected people have a 50% lower chance of dying. In addition, the holidays can be stressful for all of us and these office parties can be a great place to enjoy an interesting conversation and lower your stress. Even if you aren’t interested in the corner office, friends will keep you alive longer!

And finally, show some gratitude. The party planners never get any attention. People love to be thanked and genuine appreciation creates enormous good will. When you depart, find the people who were instrumental in hosting the party and thank them generously. Your appreciation will never be forgotten.

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