For anyone who’s ever attended a holiday office party or other obligatory event, you know only too well the fear and anxiety that often accompany it. In fact, a good number of my coaching clients whose jobs require that they attend office parties have turned to me for advice, asking:
-”What will I talk about?”
-”What if I drink too much and become fodder for office gossip the next day?”
-Or, the most dreaded quandary of all: “How long do I have to stay?”
For the answers to my clients’ top three holiday office party questions, read on…
1. “I’m hopeless when it comes to office party conversation. What am I supposed to talk about? What’s appropriate? What’s strictly off-limits?”
Office parties are an excellent opportunity to get to know your colleagues and superiors on a more personal level, in a festive, less formal environment. At the same time, “personal” doesn’t mean inappropriate or offensive. It’s one thing to talk to a colleague about neutral topics, such as outside interests, sports, hobbies, pets and family life (if the conversation goes that way, of course); it’s another to dig around for details and information that could possibly embarrass or offend.
If you’re uncertain about which subjects of conversation should remain no-fly zones, consider the usual “hot” topics: politics, religion, money, sexual preference or orientation – or anything sexual, for that matter.
It’s also inappropriate to talk shop and gossip about colleagues. Asking your boss for a raise or promotion is another office-party no-no. Office parties are a social event, and conversations that focus on work are best left at the office.
And, above all, watch your liquor intake. At an office party, a loose tongue is a lethal weapon. Not only can too much booze lead to embarrassing behavior, you might end up saying things you’d never dare to utter while sober (including off-color jokes and comments about your boss’s wife’s new breast implants). My advice? Enjoy a glass of wine, or maybe two. But once you’ve reached your limit, walk away from the bar – and never look back.
2. “What if I do something foolish at the party and I’m the subject of water-cooler gossip the next day? Can my reputation be saved?”
If you downed a few mojitos too many, stuck a lampshade on your head and danced the Macarena with the burly guy from IT, it’s possible that tongues will wag the next day. Your goal? Damage control. The best way to salvage your reputation is to make fun of the situation before your colleagues have the chance to beat you to the punch.
That’s not to say that you need to make yourself the butt of all jokes or subject yourself to further public embarrassment or humiliation. But a bit of self-deprecating humor might come in handy to diffuse an awkward situation. It sure can’t hurt.
3. “I’m shy and dread office parties like the plague. Help!”
Not everyone feels comfortable in social situations – especially if the social situation in question happens to include everyone from the chatty office manager to your fire-breathing boss. But that doesn’t mean that you should use your discomfort – or even shyness – as an excuse to blow off the party. After all, mingling with your colleagues can lead to unexpected career prospects, and could indirectly further your career.
If you really detest office parties but don’t want to be left in the professional dust, you might try to make a deal with yourself. For instance, promise to stay at the party half an hour, and half an hour only. Once you’re at the party, chances are that you’ll get swept up into the spirit of the event, and might even have fun. And if you don’t, it’s only 30 minutes out of your life. You can handle that.
And above all, remember…
A good rule of thumb at an office party is to behave as if you’re being watched. And, in many ways, you are: by your colleagues, your boss, and everyone else who happens to cross your path. Monitoring your behavior while trying to have a good time is a Herculean task, it’s true. But the alternative, such as trying to do damage control after the damage has been done, is far worse!
Melissa Roske, founder of Wheels in Motion Coaching (http://www.wheelsinmotioncoaching.com), is a Certified Life and Personal Coach, committed to helping her clients to realize their potential and to successfully attain their goals. Certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF), Melissa is also an internationally published author, advice columnist and online relationships advisor.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Melissa_Roske