It’s that time of the year again. Yep, you know the one, the office holiday party time. We all now it all too well.
On the way back home from my office holiday party, as I sat on the train with the battery on my iPhone at 18% I decided that perhaps listening to a book or music or a podcast would not be a good idea. Considering my charger was also depleted of charge. I took the time instead to close my eyes and just think or maybe nap. In front of me sat a young woman and next to her a man of, I would guess around her age. The man started a conversation with the young woman and at the first “hello” I knew that I would probably not be getting that nap after all. The conversation was harmless but it was definitely a topic that caught my attention. I couldn’t tell if they knew each other and I couldn’t see their faces but soon I would get to know both of them a little better than I had expected.
Turns out the two of them were coming from their respective holiday parties. He, a small company in Jersey City, New Jersey and she from a large company located in the heart of Manhattan. After the proper hello’s the man announced that he was coming from his holiday party and had a few too many too drink and was feeling buzzed. She chuckled and announced that she, too, was coming from her holiday party but that this year corporate had decided to make the holiday event a dry event. Apparently there had been a few “incidents” when people had a bit too much to drink and considering all news lately corporate decided that it would be best to not have alcohol available. If you ask me, it’s good news. Sad, but a necessary step these days.
At some point they both got off he train and I was left with my thoughts. So what are my thoughts? Well, we are all adults. At least in chronological years. There should be no reason for someone to tell us what we can and can’t do but it appears that for some reason not all of us are able to behave like adults which causes the need to have others decide for all of us what is appropriate. In other words, treat us like children. When you go to a holiday party hosted by your employer you must behave professionally. The fact that the party looks like fun and there are tons of people moving around, laughing, wearing funny sweaters or glittery outfits should not distract you. Remember that you are in a fishbowl and management is looking at you. You must be able to show them that you can act appropriately in all circumstances. If you are looking to be promoted, even more so. You must demonstrate that you are up to the task and you are a good representative for the firm.
I understand that some may need some help feeling relaxed in order to deal with the stress of networking — I confess that walking around talking to “strangers” and feeling judged is not my cup of tea (conversation for a different time). Some times a glass of wine may help make me a bit more relaxed and able to approach the boss. However, one glass is different from many glasses and for the love of whatever you consider holy, please eat something. Being a little uncomfortable is not such a bad thing all the time. If you don’t think you can stop at one glass, please do not go near the bar or if you must go, order a soda or a water. I find that having something in my hands helps me feel more a part of the event. You’d be surprised how even if just holding a glass of club soda or water will help you feel more at ease. It gives you something to do with your hands while you’re planning your networking strategy (also a topic for a later discussion). It’s also a good excuse when you need to get away from some boring conversation….. “excuse me, I must get a refill.”
Keeping in mind that some careers are made and some are broken at holiday parties. I’ve seen a few instances where this is true. Don’t be the one they’re talking about the next day unless it’s going to be a good kind of talk. Keep your professional persona intact and enjoy the party.
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