How to survive the festive party season

It’s the time of year when your calendar is brimming with festive invitations. How will you escape with your health and reputation intact?
by Bethan Rees

‘Tis the season to be jolly, which, for some people, means a hoard of festive parties. But it can snowball into a time of embarrassment and reputational damage if you’re not careful. Here’s how to survive the party season and get the most out of it.
Be drink awareA free bar can be a one-way route to humiliation. Remember that you’re still in ‘work mode’, even if you are not strictly at work. You are still a representative of your company. 

In an article for online course website Career FAQs, workplace relations solicitor Amelia Peters explains: “Alcohol is the biggest risk factor for bad behaviour at these types of events. Most people would never even contemplate harassing or hassling a colleague until they get some alcohol on board and their judgement goes out the window.”

Keep your wits about you. Use your common sense – if you know you can only drink two glasses of wine before you start to feel wobbly, then only have the one. 

In an article for The Telegraph, William Hanson, etiquette expert and teacher at The English Manner – a consultancy on etiquette, protocol and household management, says: “You can let your hair down, but you are still being judged and watched by your superiors and your actions are still accountable. Know your limit and stick to it. Even if the boss is getting absolutely trollied, it does not mean that it’s acceptable for you to do that yourself.”

Boot the business talkTry and leave your business hat at the door. This doesn’t mean pretending you’re at the pub with your mates, of course; but try and talk to your colleagues as humans. In an article for Fast Company, writer Rich Bellis quotes Sean Kim, podcast host and CEO of language-learning platform Rype: “Holiday parties are a rare opportunity to connect on a human level that would be neither appropriate nor productive on a regular workday.” 

Bellis suggests ‘merging clusters’ of groups who usually stick together at office parties. Ask questions that draw everyone in, such as asking about movies, music, their favourite Netflix series, or their favourite podcast episode. Finding common ground with a co-worker who you don’t speak to often is a good way to start a conversation too.

Also, remember that the office party is not a recommended time or place to make the leap and ask your boss for a promotion. 
Ready to mingle A work party is a great opportunity to speak to people you don’t work with on a daily basis, whether that’s the CEO or the new intern. It can turn out to be a networking opportunity, as well as a chance to make new friends at work. 

In an article for Forbes, Carol Kinsey Goman, president of Kinsey Consulting Service, recommends seeking out the ‘host’ of the party – which could be a senior member of staff or the CEO. Goman says: “Thank him or her for sponsoring the event. You don’t have to go overboard with praise, but acknowledge that you ‘appreciate the chance to connect with some new people you wouldn’t have met otherwise’. If this senior person is open to continuing the conversation, mention something positive that your team is doing. (Prepare one or two examples ahead of time.)”

Goman also advises partygoers to “create good karma” by looking out for “the individual who is standing alone clutching a drink in one hand and a plate of food in the other or who is walking around with ‘the look’ – scanning the room to find a friendly face”. She recommends approaching that person and introducing yourself.

The festive period should be an enjoyable time for everyone, so make sure you follow these rules to ensure you’re not the one ruining all the fun.

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Published: 30 Nov 2018
  • Career Development
  • The Review
  • Christmas
  • Career advice
  • People
  • Behaviour

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