How should I handle the office Christmas party?
The office Christmas party season is a chance to have fun with colleagues, bond with the boss and possibly pluck up the courage to ask someone out. But just answer us one question… what type of party animal are you?
Not all of us are hard core ravers, yet you may feel honour bound to let your hair down. Likewise, you may be born to party – but that doesn’t mean your boss or your colleagues are ready for your, shall we say, lighter side?
According to Helen Tiffany, Master Coach, trainer, MD and founder of Bec Development, you may want to adopt a different strategy depending on whether you’re more introvert or more extrovert.
Helen’s office party survival tips for introverts:
- Take a friend or colleague who provides you with time out and takes some of the social heat.
- Be a helper – have a role that gives you something to do that doesn’t have to involve vodka shots. But beware of unleashing your inner traffic warden.
- Find a spot to escape the crowds – chill out zones in clubs, the quieter end of the bar, or step outside for a brief breather.
- Accept you will have to make smalltalk and maybe do a little research around sport, music, celeb news… But don’t get too caught up in making your point. Small talk is as much about animated listening as animated talking.
Her office party tips for extroverts:
- Listen more. Like point 4. on our introverts’ list, small talk is also about small listen.
- Seek out a variety of people and personality types, not just fellow extroverts. Extrovert energy can boil over into something that you might prefer not to try and laugh off in the sober light of day.
- Use your amazing energy for the good of others – help when conversations lull, strike up conversations with people who seem to be on the outer edges of social groups. At the same time don’t strong arm introverts into becoming extroverts.
- And remember to brush up your party piece so you can step into the spotlight if the event does need a little help. (But avoid impersonations of those higher up the pecking order than yourself – no matter how good they are.)
How do I know what’s acceptable party behaviour where I work?
It’s worth spending a little time thinking about your company’s “personality”.
If you haven’t been working with a company particularly long, make sure you you know what the acceptable norms are when it comes to office party etiquette.
You may have come from a business, or another team, where the party behaviour would make a rock star blush, but are your new colleagues struck from the same mould? You may have been promoted into management and are suddenly mixing with people who are a little (or a lot) older than you are and may have a different attitude to the festive spirit. But don’t assume that older is necessarily wiser. If you’re now heading up a team composed of Generation Y, or Z, they may be positively abstemious.
There are signs that our world famous drinking culture may be running out of steam. Drinking rates among British adults are at their lowest since 2005. A recent Office for National Statistics survey discovered that the proportion of people who drank alcohol at least once a week has declined from 64.2% of adults to 56.9% last year. Young people aged 16 to 24 years are less likely to drink than any other age group (although when they do drink, consumption on their heaviest drinking days tends to be higher than amongst other ages).
Drink a little less and check your Facebook settings
When reputation management company Igniyte surveyed 1,000 UK employees about Christmas parties, they found that almost 1 in 3 employees have flirted with a colleague in the past, over 1 in 4 have admitted kissing a colleague, and 1 in 10 drank so much alcohol that they didn’t turn up for work the next day. But perhaps more interestingly:
- 15% were going to change their Facebook settings before their work Christmas party so that they have to approve a ‘tag’ in a status or picture
- 1 in 4 were going to “drink less” to avoid embarrassing themselves.
The key to a successful Christmas party season is getting the balance right. Don’t be a party pooper but never be the last person to walk away from the Karaoke machine (and never finish your set with Whitney Houston’s version of “I will always love you”).