Have fun at the of­fice party but be care­ful

Don’t for­get where you are or who else is there

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - books - Stacey Zable

Most com­pa­nies have stan­dards and prac­tices that dic­tate how em­ploy­ees should con­duct them­selves; how­ever, the of­fice hol­i­day party is an event that comes with its own best be­hav­ior sug­ges­tions. Use these tips from hu­man re­sources ex­perts to make sure you en­joy the scene with­out mak­ing one: Do so­cial­ize strate­gi­cally “Speak to any and ev­ery­one,” says Sonja Traxler-Nwabuoku, au­thor of Of­fice Eti­quette: The Un­spo­ken Rules in the Work­place. “If the party is open to all de­part­ments, spend time speak­ing with oth­ers that you may not nor­mally speak to in the of­fice, but keep the con­ver­sa­tion light.”

Don’t bash your boss

Along with avoid­ing deep dis­cus­sions about pol­i­tics and re­li­gion, be sure to stay away from bash­ing the bosses. “Why waste a cel­e­bra­tion on neg­a­tiv­ity? Plus, they’re es­sen­tially your hosts!” says Ni­cole Be­lyna, man­ager of re­cruit­ing and re­cruit­ing strat­egy for Thompson Creek Win­dow Com­pany in Lan­ham, Md., and a mem­ber of the ex­per­tise panel for the So­ci­ety for Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment (SHRM).

Do watch what you wear

“If you have a ques­tion and any doubts about the type of out­fit you are go­ing to wear, then don’t wear it,” says Ash­ley In­man, hu­man re­sources tal­ent spe­cial­ist for Fer­rovial Ser­vices in Austin, Texas, who also is a mem­ber of the ex­per­tise panel for SHRM. “Ask around the of­fice to find out what they wore last year if you are new.”

A lit­tle fes­tive fun can go a long way. Don’t shy away from a touch of glit­ter or se­quins or even a few jin­gle bells. Those ac­cents can be con­ver­sa­tion starters and help ex­press a side of your per­son­al­ity that your col­leagues don’t usu­ally see.

Be­lyna’s com­pany en­cour­aged fes­tive at­tire for its most re­cent hol­i­day party, re­quest­ing guests wear their most hideous ugly sweaters.

Do move mod­estly

Few can for­get when Elaine Benes of TV’s “Se­in­feld,” hit the dance floor at her of­fice’s hol­i­day party. Be sure your moves aren’t that mem­o­rable. Be­lyna sug­gests lim­it­ing your moves to those you’d do in front of your mom.

An­drew Chal­lenger, vice pres­i­dent of Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas Inc. con­sul­tancy group, en­cour­ages danc­ing. “If you don’t know how to dance ap­pro­pri­ately, then just watch other peo­ple and blend in with the gen­eral vibe.”

Don’t at­tract attention

Traxler-Nwabuoku stresses that “the of­fice party isn’t a place where you should be aim­ing to stand out from the crowd.” In­man agrees: “Se­nior lead­er­ship is there, and they do have an eye out,” she says. “Don’t for­get where you are and why you are there.”

Sim­ply fol­low what Be­lyna de­fines as the “ul­ti­mate in­ten­tion” of a hol­i­day party: “to cel­e­brate suc­cess and let em­ploy­ees en­joy time to­gether.”

Don’t bore peo­ple

While mix­ing and min­gling with those who might help boost your ca­reer is a good idea, Traxler-Nwabuoku dis­cour­ages com­ing on too strong dur­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties: “Do not bore peo­ple by try­ing to im­press them with how much you know or rave about your cur­rent projects. This should be a fun event for them as well.”

Don’t overdo it

Nearly half — 49 per­cent — of hol­i­day par­ties in 2017 planned to pro­vide al­co­hol, down from al­most 62 per­cent in 2016, ac­cord­ing to an an­nual sur­vey from Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas Inc.

“Less al­co­hol en­cour­ages more ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior and in the cur­rent cli­mate, peo­ple are more con­scious of ap­pro­pri­ate work­place be­hav­ior,” says Chal­lenger.

“Be­ing drunk is never a good look. You might be the life of the party that night, but it will hurt you for the next 365 days.”

Use com­mon sense, notes Be­lyna. “If you know that you start to get a lit­tle sassy af­ter a cou­ple drinks, then limit your­self to one, or don’t drink at all.”

Al­though it’s a party, you must still abide by of­fice guide­lines.

“Re­mem­ber, you are at a work-re­lated func­tion. You don’t want to make choices that could dam­age your cred­i­bil­ity.”

GETTY IM­AGES/IS­TOCK­PHOTO

Do min­gle with your co-work­ers at a work­place party but use care with how much your drink.

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