Avoid Ending your Career at the Holiday Party


December 9, 2007   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

‘Tis the season to be jolly. It’s also that time of the year when we’re all faced with the office Holiday party. We often feel anxious about what to wear, how to behave, how much to consume, and how long to stay.

There are many approaches to avoiding a career-ending blunder in the presence of your boss and co-workers, yet they can all be summarized with one rule:

Keep the “workplace” in “workplace party.”

There’s no need to worry if you keep these things in mind:

    1. The workplace’s version of the 100 mile rule doesn’t apply (if you’re not actually in the office, you can do whatever you want). What happens at the Christmas party never, ever, stays at the Christmas party. Imagine how foolish you’d feel making YouTube’s Most Subscribed list.


  • Outwardly affectionate’ has no place at the workplace party. Don’t greet your boss and co-workers with a swift kiss on the mouth. If you’re not in the habit of accosting him or her this way each and every workday morning, don’t start when there are tens and hundreds of wannabe gossip columnists and TMZ cameras nearby.



  • ‘Free drinks’ doesn’t mean ‘all you can drink.’ Don’t feel justified in ‘getting your money’s worth’ from the deep pockets of the company. ‘Cocktail hour’ doesn’t mean that you need to set a new Guinness record for the number of drinks you can down in an hour. Remember the term moderation and consider what it might sound like to your boss who’s in the next stall when the bottom drops out.



  • Don’t use this special occasion to appear sophisticated. If you’re accustomed to sipping beer and wine, don’t order a Long Island Iced Tea and drink it at the same pace in an effort to gain the reputation as a cultured, upscale, urban metro sexual. You’ll leave a lasting impression either way, but better to do so while standing erect.



  • Be your genuine, professional self. It never helps being labeled the Clark Kent of the firm, being the polished, consummate professional by day and the deranged, hedonist Caligula by night. Desiring to have your finger on the pulse of the company may include becoming a part of the command center, not the center of attention.



  • Keep your emotions to yourself. Don’t feel the need to let that co-worker know, once and for all before you burst from keeping that long-suppressed secret, that you have a crush on him or her, lest it be misinterpreted as sexual harassment. Unrequited love is much better in this situation than becoming known as a stalker.



  • Don’t let your date become the center of attention. If he or she drinks so much that the Chicken Cordon Bleu gets coughed up all over boss’s Salvatore Ferragamo loafers, they may suffer from mortification, but you’ll pay the ultimate price. You might think you’ll both look like Beauty and the Geek in comparison and contrast (where you’re the beauty), but having an embarrassingly-amusing companion will more likely make the promos for Girls (or Guys) Gone Wild.



  • Don’t bow to peer pressure. If you possess an overwhelming desire to join the gang at the bar doing Tequila body shots simply because you’re trying to fit in, you don’t want to be accused of being a prude, or because you work in a competitive environment and want to prove yourself conclusively as a contender, run to the washroom and reconsider. You’ll attain greater credibility and less celebrity s a result.



  • When in doubt, err on the side of introversion instead of exhibitionism. Don’t grind on the dance floor when the DJ plays “Love Shack.” There’s no benefit in showing others the meaning of the rapper Mims’ jingle “This is Why I’m Hot.” Keep it to yourself.



  • Avoid Groupthink. Despite what your perception is, alcohol doesn’t make you clever, more intelligent, incredibly likable, and a better dancer in others’ eyes. Have you ever walked into a party hours after it started? You feel like you’ve entered the Twilight Zone, don’t you? Groupthink kicks in, and decibel levels and animation increase as inhibitions disappear. It’s easy to get caught up in this mass hysteria. Assume that you’re in a fish bowl where others at the party are looking in from the outside.


Above all else, keep an eye on risk/reward ratios. We often have much more to lose through an indiscretion at an office gathering than we have to gain. Always ask yourself: ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’

Disclaimer: Full disclosure necessitates that I admit to you that I’m one of those prudes. I don’t drink.

Written for Dumb Little Man by David B. Bohl, creator of Slow Down FAST. Visit David at the Slow Down Fast blog or join one of his monthly teleseminars. His next seminar is entitled, “5 Secrets to Success: How to Begin Living YOUR Life YOUR Way”.


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