Episode #20: The Unfortunate Truth about Office Holiday Parties
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Episode #20: The Unfortunate Truth about Office Holiday Parties

That holiday spirit is contagious. It even catches all across corporate America!

Your cube-mates have strung holiday lights, cookies and treats are everywhere, and even the grumpiest co-workers seem a little more pleasant this time of year.

The peak of the office holiday season is the holiday party.

Corporate holiday parties come in all shapes and sizes. At some workplaces, it’s a modest shared lunch and Secret Santa gift exchange. And at others, it’s an all-out blowout celebration party.

No matter the format, there’s always a little buzz and excitement. It’s a party! What’s not exciting about that?

But, there is a key unfortunate truth that you must never lose sight of.

This isn’t just a party. This holiday party is a professional work function.

You may be attending with many people you consider your true friends!

But, this party is not being thrown by friends. It’s being thrown by your employer.

You may be at a company run by a hip CEO that’s your age. That hip CEO is still your employer.

As a career-driven individual, you must never lose sight of the fact that this holiday party is a work function organized by your employer.

Don’t worry, I won’t be a total party pooper. There’s still plenty of fun to be had. Here’s my best advice on how to navigate the office holiday party in a way that benefits your career path.

Don’t let an open bar be your permission slip for bad decisions.

Free-flowing booze is hard to resist, especially when you’re young and cash-strapped. In my younger days, I didn’t see an open bar—I saw an open challenge. How many drinks can I slam down before the tab closes?

If you just smiled at yourself because you feel the same way, please know that I am directly talking to you.

Save your open bar challenges for weddings, weekend tailgates, and house parties with your best friends. Your office holiday party is not the right time or place.

My memory bank is filled with the names of people who spent half of the holiday party bowing to the porcelain god, dirty dancing with others who were definitely not their spouse, or was unable to string two sensible sentences together one-hour in.

Don’t be that person.

The holiday party is not the place to discuss your career aspirations or list of complaints with anyone in leadership.

Whether you’ve been drinking or not, it’s not the time or place to have this discussion.

But, it’s the only time I have a chance to connect with the CEO, you may protest.

I must stop you right there.

It’s a party. No one wants to talk about it at a party.

Use the chance to connect with them as human beings. See it as an opportunity for them to better know who you are.

Then, follow up with them about your idea during regular business hours.

Use this party as a chance to connect with co-workers you don’t regularly work with.

A holiday party is a perfect opportunity to network with other professionals. In other words, don’t just spend the party talking to your friends—get out of your comfort zone and meet some new people.

Are there co-workers that inspire or intrigue you? See this party as a chance to get to know them. Don’t just talk shop! It’s a party, come up with better conversation subject material.

If the thought of networking with strangers intimidates you, check out my recent post titled How to Master Networking Even if You Hate Talking to Strangers.

Don’t stress. A party is supposed to be fun!

Keep your head on straight—and you will wake up the next morning regret-free.

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