So it’s that time of year when we have to contend with the annual work Christmas party.
Now for some people it’s a blast but for some it’s a drag and I see it from a different angle because I’m on my company’s social committee and trust me, it’s not always easy to put these affairs together. But from having over a decade of experience let me give you a few pointers on how to handle this night.
First you really should attend, every work place now preaches “team”, so it’s always best to put your best foot forward and be social, yes it’s often awkward and you may be with people you don’t like but it’s one of those things that it’s just easier to deal with and get it over with.
Two, just because you go doesn’t mean you need to stay all night, in fact its best that you don’t. My advice is that you show up, make sure you make contact with your immediate co-workers and bosses and make a good impression, take the time to talk to anyone else you may be friendly with, grab a bite to eat (and maybe one drink), and then after about 45 minutes to an hour quietly make your way out. You’ve made your appearance, saw the people you need to see, if you wish to move on, you’ve done your part.
Three, if you choose to stay longer at the party, enjoy yourself, if there are activities take part, don’t bad mouth people, don’t be overly negative, and don’t get sloppy drunk or think this is the time to ask out anyone. Think of it as a careful social event, like if Facebook were a real place. You watch yourself, have a little fun but this isn’t your best friend’s house either.
Four, remember this party will be water cooler talk or office gossip for the next month, you don’t want to be “that guy” or “remember her”, it’s why I say to be careful. Alcohol will be flowing, people will get relaxed, most likely once the initial awkwardness wears off (which alcohol helps to dissolve), people will talk more and you might feel you can put your guard down. Don’t, just be cool but remember where you are and who you are with. So dress conservatively, act professionally and think before you speak.
I've been to company events where when dancing was an option and things got interesting. Once two co-workers (one whom was married to someone else), got really steamy on the dance floor and another where there was a woman who danced with every man that was present. My favorite was where there was female co-worker I really liked (back when I was single), and she sought me out and we danced, it was difficult to remain cool but I did but it was a very enjoyable few minutes.
I've also been to several events where the alcohol flowed and people drank up and you could see inhibition and bad behavior coming a mile away and before things got really out of control, I left. But there were stories about those who "closed the party down" for months.
Remember just because its an afterhours party and its the holidays and you are feeling good in a social setting, don't let your emotions get the best of you. You have to come back to work the next day or on Monday, so don't do or say anything you wouldn't want on the breakroom bulletin board or company intranet page. Yes you may get approached to talk or dance by someone you are really interested (or not), be professional in either case. I'm aware many couples and marriages started at work but just be smart about it because you'll have to see them and deal with them a lot and if things go south your human resources department might be dealing with you.
Trust me, your company puts considerable time, effort and money into having a nice Christmas event, so enjoy but save your real good time for your friends Christmas party.