Office Parties: Tips to help you manage the risks

Office Parties: Tips to help you manage the risks

Advice from Wendy Smith. Wendy is a Career and Life Coach helping you find fresh perspectives on life and your career.  You can book a FREE coaching session or find out more at this link

Office parties! The office party season often creates worries for both office partiesemployers and employees. But it can be an event where you behave professionally and still have fun. It provides a great opportunity to socialize with co-workers and with managers with whom you wouldn’t usually spend much time. If you follow the advice below you should be able to handle the office party season with confidence and grace.

Office Parties – Tips

  1.  Prepare yourself mentally and accept that this is part of what is expected. It can be a good opportunity to meet new colleagues and your senior managers in a less formal environment. It provides a chance to network with new people. But it is probably a good idea to decide not to stay until the end before you go. Have a ready-made reason for leaving before people begin to really let their hair down and you are tempted to join in.  Make sure you stick to your resolution.
  2. Take care what you wear. Find out what everyone else is going to wear before the party and match the tone with your outfit.  If you are a woman, find a compromise; you want to look attractive without being overtly sexy. Keep in mind the image you have worked so hard to build and don’t destroy it in a few short hours. For men,showing your more extreme eccentricities in dress is rarely a good idea.
  3. Arrive on time for office parties. Turning up ‘fashionably late’ is not really an option at a work event and it may get noticed. Plus arriving on time gives you the opportunity to say hello to everyone and socialize while people are still likely to remember the good impression you make. It means as well, you can get out early without seeming rude.
  4. Mingle. Be sure to acknowledge all your co-workers, your managers and other business contacts who are there. Don’t give anyone the opportunity to think you ignored them; the Christmas party is an excellent opportunity to cement relationships.
  5. Don’t “dis” the boss. Talk to your co-workers and others about work issues in a positive and complimentary light, focusing on achievements for the year and fun things you remember. Whatever negative thoughts you have, keep them out of this environment. It is easy to overhear things said in a crowd but to misunderstand, so don’t get drawn into listening to other’s negativity either, you may be assumed by others to agree. Instead don’t be frightened to talk to your co-workers and management about things outside of work such as the cinema, football, holidays, hobbies and family. And practice listening; this is as important as the small talk. Though it may feel really informal, remember it is still a work event! This isn’t the time to be speaking your mind informally to management.
  6. Drink responsibly at office parties. Keep in mind that everything observed has the potential to be turned into a judgement on your professionalism and work suitability. No matter how much management has insisted that everyone let down their hair, just don’t. Eat first before drinking. Drinking on an empty stomach is asking for trouble. Space all drinks with water and more food, and lots of conversation.
  7. Be careful about romantic/sexy behaviour. Bear in mind the potential for claims of sexual harassment for both men and women. Do not touch people in ways that can be misinterpreted, or say things that are considered demeaning or sexually provocative. Use your common sense. On the other hand, if you find yourself being hit on, even by your boss, and provided it is not grossly offensive, let them down gently. I do not mean you allow yourself to be secually assaulted.Try to preserve everyone’s dignity and remember co-workers will gossip as soon as they see anything happen. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t like to hear recounted in the office the next day.
  8. Help others. If you see a co-worker overdoing the drinking or making a move when they are clearly not fully mentally in charge of themselves, step in and bail them out. Explain to them tactfully what they are doing and how it appears to other people. If this doesn’t sink in, discreetly ring a cab and make sure they get home safely. This is a time when your executive decision-making can save their reputation.

If you follow the advice above you should be able to handle your coming office parties with confidence and grace.

I wish all those planning an office party every success and if I you need help to handle the after shock, please get in touch.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in helping people lead happier lives and feel more fulfilled. She has worked in management as well as coaching and personal development, as well as starting up her own businesses. That means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up a new business or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. 

Need help finding work, with problems at work, at home or with relationships? Book a FREE coaching session with Wendy or find out more at this link


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