Office Party Etiquette - By Kate Lorenz

With the holiday season in full swing, many employers throw a party for employees to reward them for a job well done, celebrate the year's successes and build camaraderie among workers. But while this is a time to relax, there are some pitfalls of partying with your coworkers.

Thinking business social events are off the record and thinking you have an excuse to drop your ethics and inhibitions can be job suicide. "Stories of one disastrous evening will be spread by employee and spouses to their colleagues, friends and customers," says Kathleen Rich-New, an executive women's coach. "You are a paid professional, act like it."

Whether it's punch in a meeting room or a shindig at the hottest club, it's important to remember you'll be working with these people come Monday. This doesn't mean you have to be up-tight and a party pooper, but rather know where the line is drawn between office hijinks and fodder for gossip. Here are some tips for enjoying the office party while still maintaining professional decorum.

*Deck the Halls*
Although you might want to dress up and be decked out in your favorite outfit, remember you are with professional colleagues not your drinking buddies. When you are thinking about what to wear, remember that this is not just an ordinary holiday bash but a party with people you see every day in a professional setting. Your clothes should be similar (in taste) to what you would normally wear at work. "A good guideline is to think about what your boss or your boss's boss will be wearing to the party. Don't wear anything that is sexy or revealing to an office party," advises Theresa Castro, Career Coach and author of The Dark Before the Dawn: 70 Secrets to Self-Discovery.

*Frosty the Snowman*
The office party is about building camaraderie, not fostering cliques. Remember to mingle with people outside of your immediate group of work buddies - don't just clump together with your friends and co-workers, Jill Bremer of Bremer Communications says. "Check in with them periodically, then move on to another person or group. Your company expects you to work the room." And, if someone enters your conversation group? Welcome them and make introductions. Don't monopolize any one person at a party, either. This isn't the time to corner the CEO and deliver your 45-minute pitch for office recycling. Bremer suggests circulating every five to 10 minutes so that you can meet as many people as possible. This is your opportunity to learn about projects and clients, departments and get to know the variety of people in your organization.

*Do You Hear What I Hear?*
Although work parties are a time to let your hair down, it doesn't mean you should let it all hang out. This isn't the locker room so don't treat it as such. Be mindful of swearing and crude language, advises Jim O'Connor, president of the Cuss Control Academy and author of Cuss Control: The Complete Book on How to Curb Your Cursing. "You may be offending people and it makes you look like you are an oaf," he says. "Respect people and think before you use profanity - it will get you a lot further in your career." It's also important to be careful of inappropriate jokes. Don't tell a joke that you ordinarily wouldn't tell at the workplace, such as jokes that are discriminatory in nature or contain racial, sexual, gender-based undertones.

*Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer*
Keep in mind that alcohol has the tendency for people to say or behave in ways that they normally wouldn't. Set a limit of one or two drinks. "Don't get trashed," Castro says. "What you say and how you behave at a party can and will be held against you later. This is to not to say that your behavior will be documented in your next evaluation. Instead, people will keep mental notes and use them later when you are looking to get promoted or get an increase in your pay." Cindy Rakowitz, CEO and founder of RNR Entertainment Inc. agrees. "The office party is not the place to overdrink. The repercussions can result in the loss of a job, and a demerit in one's reputation for a long time." And never use drugs at an office party, she says.

*I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus*
Be wary of putting yourself in compromising positions warns Peggy Post of the Emily Post Institute. In her book, The Etiquette Advantage in Business, Post writes, "Excessive flirting, inappropriate soul-bearing, too-eager touching -- amorous adventures in all forms lose their romance in the clear light of the office workday. The safest way to avoid embarrassment and regret is to be well aware of the dire consequences that can result."

Employees should think of the office party as a place to show themselves at their very best, Rakowitz says. "It is a rare opportunity to impress upper management, and transform oneself from a "number" to a friendly, fun human being. Rigid rules the night 'ON'....and have fun!"

I think The Fish broke every rule on this list... Revealing dress cut down to her navel, sluts ONLY table (i.e. drunk & single people), "Fuck" as an alternative word for "the", and passing out where everyone could get a picture with their camera-phones.


Anonymous grill said...

Salacious! Raunchy!! I LOVED THIS!!
Although I could probably benefit from the lessons espoused from the guy from the Cuss Control Academy...
It's almost kind of ashame that there's only ONE holiday party a year like this. Just so much fodder for the mental images... ;-)

1:08 PM  

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