In this season of merriment and good cheer, it’s easy to forget that you have to remain professional at your office holiday party.
I’ve seen my fair share of holiday party disasters, and while some blunders can be laughed off the next day, some can ruin your career and reputation.
On the flip side, holiday parties can be a chance to enhance your career. You will likely get the chance to socialize with people in other departments that you don’t regularly encounter during your workday. If you’re lucky, you may even get face time with company executives.
You won’t be able to take advantage of these networking opportunities if you’re dancing on a speaker, and you don’t want to find yourself the subject of water cooler gossip the following week. Above all, enjoy yourself responsibly and make an effort to strengthen relationships with your colleagues.
In the hopes of saving you from a painful fall from grace, I would like to share a list of holiday office party “don’ts”.
1. Don’t down a bottle of Grey Goose
This rule is really the foundation of all others, but for some, it’s quite hard to follow. The alcohol is usually flowing at these events and everyone is having a great time. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun, but there is a fine line between enjoying yourself and passing out face-down in your chicken tetrazzini.
If you’re going to drink, make sure you do it in moderation and plan to take public transit or a taxi home.
Recommended reading: What Should You Drink At A Professional Networking Event?
2. Don’t seduce your co-workers
If you’ve failed to follow the first rule and find yourself a little too tipsy, you must, under no circumstances, wind up in a compromising situation with a co-worker.
A staggering number of hookups happen at work-related events, and this can affect your job as well as your personal life. So please, stay away from the mistletoe.
3. Don’t insult your co-workers
During the holidays, some individuals feel the need to express their true feelings about their co-workers, positive or otherwise. The holiday party is the worst possible place to share your grievances with a colleague, or more dangerously, declare to your boss, “I could do your job with my eyes closed!”
4. Don’t take any of your clothes off
Someone once took me as a date to their company holiday party. Everyone was having a grand old time until one of the employees sprinted through the party completely naked. The streaker, as it turns out, had just put in his two weeks notice and thought it would be a memorable farewell “gift.”
You can imagine the reference he would get from the Human Resources Manager at this company. And therein lies an important lesson: you may not get fired immediately for an act of youthful defiance or idiocy, but people have long memories for such incidents. This festive streaking episode of 2008 might come up in a reference somewhere down the road, and it certainly doesn’t inspire confidence in his professionalism.
5. Don’t discuss any topics of critical importance to your career
This is particularly important if you’ve bungled any of the above rules. If you’ve been wandering about in your boxers, it’s best that you don’t saddle up next to your boss at the bar and ask for a raise. When the booze is flowing, people will sometimes inexplicably bring up issues which are related to a promotion, raise or bonus. Save it for a more appropriate forum once you’re back in the office on Monday.
Photo credit: Ramsey Mohsen