Whether you love them or dread them, office parties are an important part of company culture, and you need to attend yours unless you want to be known as that person who isn't any fun. Try to arrive at your office party early, and take a look at these tips for making the best of the situation.
With any luck your office party announcement gives some clue on the type of dress that's expected, but when in doubt, business casual is your best option. Dress festive, but don't wear anything that shows too much skin or contains graphics or text with a questionable message, no matter how humorous you find it.
Mingle with guests so you can meet new people at your company and get to know your co-workers better. Don't stay put in one corner of the room or speak to the same person all evening. Set a goal to chat with at least a few individuals you don't know, and be sure to spend time with some of the higher-level managers at your firm. While mingling, avoid overly flirtatious behavior and public displays of affection, since this might raise a few eyebrows.
Limit Talk About Work
Although some work conversation is likely to pop up, avoid trying to further your work agenda. Instead, keep the conversation light. When talking to those in leadership roles, it's acceptable to offer thanks for the work they do or praise for a particular project. When meeting someone from a different department, it's only natural to chat briefly about your jobs. Afterwards, try asking open-ended questions to steer the conversation to new topics.
Gossip is another taboo. Avoid talking about your co-workers or department heads unless they are actively involved in the conversation. Similarly, steer clear of controversial topics, such as religion and politics. If occasional debating is part of your company culture, occasional forays into these areas might be acceptable, but in general, stick to more innocuous topics, such as the weather, pop culture or sports.
Watch Your Alcohol Intake
If your office party features a bar or spiked punch, watch your alcohol intake. In general, one drink is okay, and two should be your absolute limit. It's probably best to opt for non-alcoholic drinks only. The worst office party faux pas tend to relate to alcohol consumption, so exercise caution and avoid getting drunk.
Relax, and try to have fun at your company's office party. The party provides a chance for your co-workers to see your more laid-back side. Also, laughter and fun times help build camaraderie among you and your team. If you're struck with a case of nerves before the office party, try imagining you're at a family or neighborhood event, and get into the spirit of the occasion.
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