Office Party Etiquette: Sense & Sensibilities For The Season

By Louise Bauer Davoli

What happens at the annual company party can have repercussions long after the noisemakers have been thrown away. As we approach the office party season, taking a few minutes to clarify your objectives for attending the work related event may prove advantageous for your career.

Holiday office parties are intended to be fun, morale boosters, and provide employees with an opportunity for casual mingling. It behooves the party participant to remember that these relaxed circumstances need to remain strictly business functions. If you are planning on attending this year's work related holiday fete, consider the party as an opportunity to advance your position within the company. Most of us have either heard about an office party horror story or have been a witness to an embarrassing situation that has unfolded under the mistletoe.

Surviving the Soirée Season

-- Dress appropriately
-- Be a positive conversationalist
-- Mingle
-- Hands free

If you see a future for yourself with the company or organization, you must make an appearance at the seasonal soirée. You don't have to stay the whole time, nor should you, but you need to be seen. Not attending could hurt your reputation and ultimately, your ability to progress in your position. Also, arriving nearly an hour late and quickly sweeping the room touching base with the boss, a coworker and another colleague then disappearing will be noticed.

If looking your best at the holiday event is your objective, you may consider checking in with an office manager or a respected mentor to find out what comprises appropriate attire. Even if the seasonal soiree is taking place at the hottest spot in town, remember, it is still an official company function. Showing up decked out in the latest Lady Gaga or Katy Perry party dress may not be the best choice for your career. Go ahead and be festive with your outfit but avoid wearing the flashy and revealing skimpy dress.

Talk Tips

-- Smiling and eye contact
-- Ask open-ended questions
-- Listen - add value
-- FORM guideline

Keep your conversations with your coworkers and colleagues upbeat and positive. Now is not the time to blow off steam and let the office dead beat know your most inner thoughts about their performance. Avoid provocative subjects and jokes that could be offensive to others. Do not monopolize conversations. This is not the time to let everyone know how highly you regard your own work accomplishments. Be gracious to others and thank your coworkers and colleagues for their contributions throughout the year. DO NOT GOSSIP with anyone at the party.