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Office Party Etiquette

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How to put your best foot forward and not in your mouth.

OfficePartyEtiquette’Tis the season to party with colleagues. Holiday dinner parties are just around the corner, and good party etiquette should be at the top of your list of importance. Office events are typically an extension of your professional life. The holidays are the perfect time to brush up on proper etiquette and manners — especially when it comes to event invites, writing thank-you notes, gifting or re-gifting presents and attending holiday soirees. After all, someone might be watching you and making a list on who’s being naughty or nice!

It is simply impossible to know the personal beliefs of everyone we wish well during the holiday season, so, first and foremost, always speak your personal holiday greeting. If I say, “Merry Christmas!” and you say, “Happy Hanukkah!” or “Happy Kwanzaa!” or even “Happy Christmahanukwanza!” then all is as it should be. Exchanging greetings is a wonderful way to share your personal beliefs, while at the same time honoring another’s. Do not use “Happy Holidays” as a cop out phrase. Only say it if that is truly your genuine preference when addressing another person this season. However, if your entire business has a holiday greeting card that needs to reflect a wide range of religious beliefs, then “Happy Holidays!” is the best phrase to use. Lastly, do not worry about offending another person with your personal salutation. Be understanding and flexible, for ’tis the season for sharing and caring!

Good reputations take years to build. However, it only takes one negative incident at a holiday function to destroy one’s personal brand in the business community. Holiday behavior can make or break you. It could be an opportunity to demonstrate social skills that land you a nice promotion, or it’s a tipping point that could ruin you completely where you end up re-branded as the party nightmare before Christmas. Holiday parties are also the perfect opportunity to broaden your business social circle, so be mindful and do not be self-destructive to your career. Likewise, make it easier to incorporate your date as you mingle and circulate by briefing them on recent office happenings and business dealings. However, be aware of what you are publicly sharing, because it is always possible that competitive ears, media or frenemies are within hearing distance of what you say. Speaking of being aware, alcohol can also be a contributing factor to loose words and behavior. Remember that it typically takes one hour for your body to process one alcoholic beverage.

Most people look forward to holiday office parties. They are an opportune time to relax and enjoy each other’s company for who each person is as an individual and not for what each person does at their job. It’s also a chance to poke fun and let off some steam, because we all know how stressful the office can be at times and how crazy some of our co-workers can make us. Of course, it is important to do this all in good nature, because we spend an extensive amount of our time with our co-workers on a regular basis.

There are always so many uncertainties when it comes to whether or not we should give gifts around the holiday season at work. My suggestion is to give your time. We are paid for our time, and our time is the most valuable thing. Why not give some of our own time this holiday season? Also, if I plan a big party, then you should plan to come for at least an hour or two. And being late is not always fashionable; in many cases, it is rude! And be sure to never eat and run! It’s insulting, and it’s a good indication that you secretly cannot stand being around me or your other co-workers. For me, work is so much more than just a job. It is a contributing factor and influence on my life, and so I suggest to everyone that the focus of your holiday office parties be about becoming friends with your co-workers, strengthening those relations and meeting new friends through your peers. Make it about the season, and cater your will power to being joyful.

Helpful Hints on How to Play Nice  
·               Advise your employer of your religious beliefs.
·               RSVP, and be punctual.
·               Bring the hostess a gift.
·               Mind your reputation — and yourself!
·               Mind your manners — don’t double dip your chip or carrot stick.
·               Do not gossip.
·               Don’t come if you’re not going to stay.
·               Give the gift of your time.
·               Don’t hang mistletoe at a company party — that’s just awkward.