With the festive season fast approaching your employers have already rented out a fantastic location and put together a scrumptious menu and drinks selection for the highly anticipated Christmas party. He or she has also gone through the trouble of picking out the latest and greatest in entertainment which will have everyone putting their dancing shoes on and revelling the night away. You might say… surely, the boss wants you to let loose and thoroughly enjoy yourself because your great performance and good work ethic all year long gives you a pass to celebration!
Although the Christmas party is a time for celebration and coming together with colleagues outside of the office environment, one must keep in mind that there is an unspoken corporate etiquette and forgetting to pay any attention to this could be risky. Career reputations have been tarnished, people have missed out on promotions and some have even been fired for behaving inappropriately during the office Christmas party.
I have put together a simple corporate etiquette guide, which will help you get through the social minefield that is your office Christmas party.
Make sure you do actually attend no matter how much you dread it</strong> – All eyes are on you. The boss(es), your coworkers as well as people from other divisions are seeing you represent your business and your professional ethics at the party as well as you do in your office. Your path to career progression is also formed here.
Dress code -pay attention to the dress code whether it’s specified on the invitation or not. You can wear something totally different from your daily office wear and look good whilst still playing it safe by not showing anymore skin then you would in a business meeting. This is still an OFFICE party more than an office PARTY. Also, if your partner or date is invited, what they wear to the event is just as important as what you are wearing. No one will judge you if your partner is Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie but you will be judged if your partner is not dressed appropriately.
Drinks – Know your limitations and always drink in moderation – employees at times forget that management is observing employee behaviour as well as the other way around. You need your wits about you, and you need for others to know that you don’t need alcohol to fuel your Christmas spirit – the key to this is to never forget this is office related, even in the case that some of the people around you have made the open bar their own personal challenge.
Conversation – people tend to forget they are among colleagues especially after a couple of drinks. Do be mindful of what you share whether it is business related or the occasional slip of the tongue when it comes to any wrongdoings or any intimate information. There is such a thing as too much information. When it comes to group conversation; never speak too loudly, over others or take over; be respectful and learn to listen too – it’s not a competition of who outshines who.
Mingling and the correct way to do it – what is your overall goal at work? Of course, if you would like to progress, you need to demand respect and avoid any negative attention. This of course applies both at the workplace as well as at office functions. People tend to feel much more open and relaxed in a more social environment. Be aware that your persona does not draw the wrong attention because of your words, posture or clothing – we don’t need to be conservative but being smart, polished and put together leaves a much more lasting impression.
Be authentic – your behaviour at this party should reflect your behaviour at the office.
Don`t forget to thank your boss as well as the organiser of the party – when large corporate parties are organised guests tend to forget that someone was actually behind the organisation as well as paying the bill at the end of the day! You can express your gratitude before you leave the party or even a quick email sent a few days later.
Know when to bow out gracefully. As a simple equation to guide you — the last one left standing is the one least likely to be standing come January. Consider booking a taxi at a decent hour. Remember that no matter who you are or what you are doing, your manners will have a direct impact on your professional and social success.