From cocktail parties, to fancy lunches, to team philanthropy projects, end-of-the-year office holidays gatherings take all sorts of different shapes these days. But no matter what type of celebration your workplace throws, a few rules apply for ensure you get the most out of the experience.
“It’s a festive time, and a time for generosity,” says Devin Lemoine, owner and president of Baton Rouge-based management consulting firm Success Labs. “It should be seen as a time to deepen your connections with your team, boss and peers.”
Here’s how to make the most of this year’s festivities.
The first rule of thumb is to RSVP to your office gathering in the affirmative, says Lemoine.
“You should definitely attend a holiday party because it’s a great opportunity to connect with people who are important to your success now and into the future,” says Lemoine, a champion of networking. “This is not something you want to say ‘no’ to.”
Before attending your holiday event, think about who you need to make time for over the course of the evening. It could be a boss, boss’s spouse or partner, team members you don’t see often enough or direct reports you want to thank and introduce to others. While it’s nice to stay in your comfort zone and chat with your office pals, a better use of your time is to forge connections with individuals who you can support – or who can support you. Lemoine cautions that these interactions shouldn’t be obsequious or forced, but should be sincere and intentional.
While mingling and making small talk might come naturally for extroverts, introverts can find a large — or even small gathering — on the stressful side. Lemoine says introverts shouldn’t worry. Instead, they should approach the occasion in a manner that works for them.
“For people who don’t enjoy making the rounds and having dozens of conversations, it’s perfectly fine to have deeper conversations with a few key people,” says Lemoine.
Moreover, there’s a silver lining about an occasion like this for introverts.
“It sort of forces that person to get out there and network in a way that they might not do naturally,” she adds.
It goes without saying, but another guiding principle of the office gathering is to be appropriate, says Lemoine. This includes responding your attendance in a timely manner, following the dress code, bringing a ‘plus-one’ only if it’s encouraged and, perhaps most importantly, not drinking too much.
“You want to be social, but not go nuts,” says Lemoine. “You want to be present and to really think about what you’re doing. You can’t be intentional if you’ve had too much to drink.”
Moreover, says Lemoine, your behavior on the job as well as at the office party makes an indelible impression on the boss. The next time he or she considers you for a position or a new project, you want to be associated with only positive thoughts.
At the end of the day, says Lemoine, the office party is a time not to kick up your heels and blow off steam. It’s a festive time to connect and reconnect with those who are key to your workplace success.
“The question you should always ask is,” Lemoine says, “is ‘how can I be most generous with myself in my interactions with others?’”
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