The office holiday party can be a happily anticipated event or a dreaded avoid-at-all-costs albatross. In either case, everyone should be prepared for the unexpected and, unfortunately, for what might have, sadly, occurred in the past like embarrassing behavior, poor judgment, etc. So I have some tips for you to share with your staff and colleagues. What does this have to do with developing your employees? Everything in my humble opinion. How we act at an out-of-the-office office function says as much about the way we work from 9 "til 5 as it does about our party manners. So these tips are as much for your wallflowers as they are for the one who overindulges.
Don´t drink too much.
First things first: Don´t drink too much alcohol. If you tend to go overboard, this is the time in your life when you need to "just say no" thank you. Drinking water is cool these days, so do yourself and your colleagues a favor by not inviting disaster. And remember, if you must wear that lampshade, you don´t need the effects of alcohol-just don the shade and smile. Don´t forget: if clients are at the same gathering, that´s reason enough to lay off of the hard stuff. The last thing you want to do is lose business because of an indiscretion that could easily have been avoided.
Be a good event planner. Whether you´re the one planning the event or you´ve assigned this fun job to one of your employees scheduling needs to be done early. Unless you want to be dealing with regrets only from people who made previously plans you´ll want to let everyone know when and where as soon as possible. Even though it´s only early December that doesn´t mean there´s a whole lot of time left. Be sure, also, to let people know if they can bring guests like clients and/or spouses.
Master the art of small talk.
Small talk has gotten a bad name over the years, but it still comes in handy, especially at office holiday parties. And from someone who lives in Chicago, I will tell you first-hand that people talk about the weather all the time. But remember, small talk doesn´t mean you have to go on and on (especially about the weather come to think of it"?¦). In fact, the most successful small talkers are the ones who can strike a pretty good balance between listening and speaking. Don´t forget when being introduced to someone to extend your hand for a firm handshake. And eye contact! You may look shifty if your eyes are everywhere except upon the person who´s talking. Also, try to steer clear of dicey business talk. Even though it´s a work-related get-together doesn´t mean you have to stick to business talk. Try to gauge, for example, when the people you´re talking to just want to cover another topic.
Thank your hosts.
You may be in a hurry to leave the party, but before you fly out the door be sure to say thank you to the people responsible for those hors d´oeuvres you devoured. If a committee handled the party, try to get to as many of the people who planned it as possible. It´s always good to make deposits into the bank of goodwill, especially in the business world. If you happen to forget to express your appreciation in person, then send an e-mail or, if you really want some points, handwrite a note and put a real stamp on the envelope.