Pennsylvania – We’re officially into office party season. We have some tips for enjoying yourself while not ruining your good reputation in the workplace.

A Christmas office party is a mix of a social event and a networking event. Get to know people and have a good time, but keep in mind that these are also your coworkers and superiors.

Have the right mindset

  • Even if you’re hesitant to go, office parties are a crucial part of the workplace dynamic. Even if you don’t feel like it, you should probably go. Accept that this is part of what is expected as an employee.
  • It’s a good opportunity to network with new people or get to know your coworkers a little better.
  • If your workplace is paying, it’s also a good chance to enjoy free food and alcohol.
  •  If you’re still hesitant to go, consider giving yourself a white-lie excuse to leave in advance (have to leave early to attend another event or because the babysitter can’t watch the kids after a certain time).

Plan ahead

  • Decide ahead of time how long you’ll stay, if you’ll drink and when to stop, and any topics to avoid.
  • Also plan on what to wear. Find out what the dress code for the party is and what other people will be wearing. You don’t want to be overdressed and make others feel uncomfortable, but you always don’t want to look sloppy.

Mingle

  • Be sure to acknowledge all of your co-workers. Even if there is someone who you don’t necessarily enjoy, at least say a friendly hello.
  • Spend some time learning about your coworkers’ and superiors’ interests and hobbies. If you’re going to talk about work, keep it positive and light. Focus on fun things that happened during the year or achievements.
  • Listen to others. People love talking about themselves and are often eager to share, so ask light questions such as what movies or TV shows they’ve enjoyed recently, how their football team is doing, their pets, and their family.
  • Even though the event might be informal, still be careful of how you speak to your superiors. Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t say in the workplace.

Drink responsibly

  • Don’t forget that you are at a party with your coworkers, who you will still have to work with afterwards.
  • You can join in the drinking if you don’t want to look too stiff. Have fun, but be aware of your limits. Keep in mind that there is always someone watching with a judging eye.
  • Don’t let alcohol allow you to say something that you generally wouldn’t. Don’t use it as an excuse to let out your frustrations or resentment.

Be wary of office romance

  • You may be tempted to make a move, especially if inhibitions are lowered by alcohol. Mixing romance with your workplace can lead to trouble and even lawsuits, so tread carefully. Use your common sense and do not say things that could be offensive or provocative. On the other hand, if you find yourself being hit on, tactfully remove yourself from the situation.

Take care of others

  • If you see another coworker drinking too much or saying things that others find offensive, gently let them know how their actions could seem to others.

It all boils down to this: You’ll still have to work with these people, even after the party is over.


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