Leslie knows etiquette – and office parties. Here’s her advice on how to come out of a workplace party with your dignity intact.
Work, work, work… Duties, schedules, briefings, meetings… Office parties are being waited like a miracle or a good chance to relax and have the best time of one’s life. They help a team become more cohesive and develop their creativity; office parties give employees pride for their company and confidence in its stability.
But for real businessmen, an office party is one more opportunity to network, communicating with colleagues and partners in some informal setting.
So how do you survive an office party and make any benefits from this part of company culture?
Arrive on time
According to business etiquette rules, everyone should attend all meetings on time. Office parties are informal meetings of course, but this fact does not alter the rule. Don’t be late!
As a rule, a company’s top management says welcomes everyone, thanks the staff for their good work, sums up the results of a year at the beginning of a party; and it would be impolite to miss this speech.
Dress for the occasion
Your clothes should fit the place, time and theme of your office party. Wear a modest evening dress (if you are a lady) and pants with a shirt (if you are a man); try to avoid too fanciful colours and candid cleavage.
Remember the names
Do you have a good memory for faces and names? Lucky you!
Most people would prefer everyone wearing badges, because there is no situation more stupid than forgetting the name of your co-worker and resorting to something like “Hey, pal…” to pick up the conversation.
If you do not want to find yourself in such an awkward situation, remember these rules:
if you know your interlocutor but you haven’t met him in person (you talked via Skype, emails, etc.), you can start a dialog introducing yourself: “Hello, I’m John. We discussed our project in Skype”.
If you know your interlocutor and you have met him before, start your conversation with reminding him who you are: “Hello, I’m John. We met at the conference 6 months ago”.
Introducing your colleague to other people, tell his full name and position as well as some professional achievements: “Steve, please meet my colleague Paul. He is a great designer. You probably remember the project X, that was his job.”
The art of conversations
There are introverts, extroverts, even ambiverts — temperaments differ, and you should remember that before starting a dialog. If your colleague is not very talkative, there is no need to talk to him incessantly; on the other hand, do not be a passive listener to a person who likes to talk.
Leaving the dialog
The most difficult thing at a party is to interrupt the conversation politely. Several strategies can be used here:
The food angle: “I’m gonna go and eat something”, or “I promised to bring some drinks to my colleagues, and they are probably tired of waiting already”.
The fresh air route: “I need some air”, or “It’s too stuffy here, I’ll go and get some air”.
The phone tactic: “Excuse me, I need to call”.
The friend play: “Oh, there is my old friend out there. I’ll go and say hello to him”.
What NOT to Do
There are plenty people out there that like to walk the fine line with their colleagues and bosses, only to regret their shenanigans bitterly the next morning. Don’t be one of them. To avoid any unpleasant situations, remember these eight DON’Ts and try to follow them:
DON’T be too frank with everyone;
DON’T eat as if this is the last time you see food;
DON’T force friendship upon your boss;
DON’T flirt with your colleagues;
DON’T drink a lot;
DON’T bring your friends with you.
What to do if you’ve shamed yourself?
Well, s**t happens.
What can you do the next day after the party if your behaviour was… uh… not very good?
Pretend that nothing happened
You are not a student who searches for a job but a respectful specialist and professional who is still a human – not some robot without any kind of weaknesses. Chances are that your colleagues weren’t all that innocent either, so they might just be thinking of their own fails at that party, and not yours.
Laugh at yourself
If you hear your colleagues discussing your “performance” the night before, a modicum of self-irony can salvage the situation. Say something like “Well, it’s a pity I’ve spilled a bottle of that expensive wine on myself, but when would I have another chance to take a shower of such a rare 20 aging merlot?”
Take a week long vacation or pretend you are ill. This is perhaps not the most mature option, but that time will be enough for your colleagues to forget about your “adventures”, and they will find a new victim for their jokes and gossips; chances are that the everyday work-related problems will supplant their memories of however skilfully you danced on the table or however excellently you performed at karaoke.
And remember – office parties can be a great chance to further your career. As long as you remember to behave.
Liked Leslie’s tips? Share them on Twitter!