Is it already that time of year again? Time for the annual company holiday party? Some celebrate with a formal banquet, others with a sad buffet of frozen finger food. But alcohol is usually in full swing – and along with the open bar comes a wide array of opportunities for faux pas.
To keep your Christmas party from killing your career, you’re going to need to remember to bring your sense of professionalism – and a strong knowledge of the employee handbook, before you finish your third glass of wine. So sit down, and listen up – with these five sentences, you can ruin your career in minutes.
“Mmm – these mini-quiches are finger-lickin’ good! Pass me another!”
Is there any situation more awkward than fine dining with your colleagues? It’s the quickest way to show your colleagues and managers that proper and refined etiquette are simply second nature for you. So, take note: no jumping the line in the buffet, don’t cut your roast beef with your spoon, and no wiping your dirty mouth on the table cloth, your sleeve, or your neighbor. If you’re prone to making unbecoming noises at the dinner table, take pains to conceal them as best you can. And on the topic of dinner table conversation – don’t check your emails while talking to your boss – no one is as excited about your new wearable smartwatch as you are. Instead, give him your most charming smile, and your full attention. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, they’ll most likely smile right back – and think of you in a better light tomorrow.
“Guys, Peter is just the worst… I mean, the WORST. Don’t you agree??”
This might be true. It’s probably true. But trashing your colleagues at a work function will never help your career – especially at the holiday party. Your gossiping will land you on the corporate list of troublemakers – and rightfully so. If you demonstrate a lack of respect for your colleagues, you’ll never be trusted with any important information again. And for your own professional development, you’ll surely need the support and trust of your colleagues. So, on the night of your company holiday party, stick instead to high-brow smalltalk – think current events, literature, history, hobbies. Leave out inflammatory topics like politics and religion, and leave poor Peter alone. It’s not his fault he’s the worst.
“The best part of this party is the booze!”
This sentence might delight the host – but it won’t thrill your boss. Alcohol, especially in unrestricted quantities, has certainly ruined more than one career. Beginning the evening with an aperitivo to ease the flow of conversation with a particularly boring colleague – we can all agree, this is acceptable. Then as dinner proceeds, they serve a light white wine, then a red, and finally some digestifs at the bar. If you don’t want to stay completely dry at the party, we understand. But there’s one big tip – avoid the hard liquor at all costs. It’s no secret that a drink or two can lead to loose lips and idle chatter. This is never going to work in your favor, especially if you wind up passed out in your boss’s desk chair. It’s good to know – alcohol doesn’t only affect your speech, it’ll also influence your dexterity, your body language, and your overall demeanor! A clear mind is extremely important for maintaining appropriate posture. You need to know your own limits – even if your boss is buying another round.
“… Oops! I already posted the video on Instagram. Should I not have done that?”
Every day in the office, you show that you know how to handle social media like a pro. Right? So it shouldn’t be very difficult to discern which horrifying and embarrassing videos of your colleagues not to post, Tweet or pin. We know you know better. So keep your phone tucked away, and focus instead on enjoying the party in real-time, not through your camera phone. Stay professional. Your colleagues – and your career – will certainly thank you for it.
“I bought a new alarm clock today… Want to come over and hear it tomorrow?”
EW. This is an absolute taboo! Cheap pick-up lines like this will only accelerate one thing – your departure from the company. Flirting isn’t advisable, but might be tolerable in the right circumstances – especially if you’re talking to a direct peer. A friendly hug and maybe a spin on the dance floor are usually okay. But with alcohol at play, there’s a very important rule here: be aware of boundaries! The company holiday party is a professional event. Your mistakes here might even have more serious implications than a simple warning. Stay respectful, and give your dance partner plenty of personal space – don’t encroach or make them feel uncomfortable.
And for the day after, there’s one more golden rule: if you can party, you can work. Calling in sick the day after the company holiday party isn’t just disrespectful to your team, it’s bound to irritate them too. Don’t alienate them – or you’ll have no one to party with next year.