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Five Keys to Enjoying, Thriving, Surviving the Office Party

by Randall Hansen, Ph.D.

Have you just received the invitation to the office party -- holiday or otherwise? Are you worried or dreading the experience? Are you angry the organization is spending so much money on the party -- and not on raises or bonuses? Are you shy or introverted and thinking of skipping it altogether? Or are you simply unsure how to properly act or behave at an office party?

This article discusses five key to enjoying, thriving, and surviving an office party. Following these tips will help you navigate the sometimes rough waters of office politics and office gatherings. While the events are meant to be a reward for employees, many people misunderstand or misbehave -- leading to negative consequences, and lots of unwanted gossiping.

Just Say Yes. Many workers would rather have a cash bonus (or better, a raise) than a party for the employees, but management often sees it differently. Owners and managers see the office party as a time to celebrate and reward their employees; holiday parties are especially done to celebrate the year -- and celebrate the season.

So, when you are invited to the party -- even if it is just a party for employees (no guests allowed) -- you should put aside any ill feelings and still go and make an appearance. Some other experts say it is okay to skip office parties if it is a hardship to attend, but my advice is that you should make every effort to attend -- because somewhere someone is taking notice of who attended and who skipped.

Finally, remember in all circumstances that this event is not really a party -- it is a company function; thus, always act as professionally as possible.

Express Appreciation. Do not attend the party with a chip on your shoulder; in fact, your strategy should be just the opposite. Regardless of how you feel about the company or the party, seek out your boss and express your appreciation to the organization for hosting the event. Even better, find the office manager (or whoever did the heavy lifting in organizing the party) and thank him/her for all the hard work.

Finally, take time to also show appreciation to your co-workers and team members. Expressing gratitude to the people you spend most of your days with is just smart business -- and, assuming you actually like these folks, it will make the party all the better for everyone involved.

Everything in Moderation. From all my years of talking with both managers and employees about office parties, I can tell you that the worst stories come about from people who let it loose at the events.

Yes, enjoy the food and drink -- but modestly. Just because it is free does not mean you need to be gluttonous. Over-indulgence in food and/or booze should be avoided at all costs.

One more thing in moderation too: chatting. Do not overstay or monopolize conversations or people. Make the rounds but don't be the bore/loudmouth everyone talks about the next day.

Don't be a Wallflower. I am an introvert and office parties are one of the last things I want to do, but I realize their importance -- and I know I will have some fun chatting with some of the people at the party. I just make sure I am not in one spot for the entire party; you have to do some mingling.

Remember that the office party is a great way to network with colleagues and bosses -- and perhaps one of the rare chances you'll get meet and interact with some of these people. The key to networking at these events is to remember to keep your conversations short, first introducing yourself (even if you think the other person should know who you are) before moving on to a short conversation about what you love about what you do. (No need to have boring conversations about the weather, traffic, etc.

Finally, once you have walked around and chatted with folks (and expressed your appreciation for the party), you can head back to your little crowd of friends and/or head home if the event is dragging you down.

Don't Overstay Your Welcome. In those rare instances when the office party is a blast and you are having a great time, try to watch the clock -- and if you see the party winding down, make your quick goodbyes and final thank-you's to whoever is left and go home.

If people are cleaning up by the time you leave, you should at least offer to stay and help in some way; being thoughtful and kind is always the smart move.

Final Thoughts About Attending Office/Work Parties

Don't dread the party and don't overboard -- find that middle ground that is respectful to the company and respectful to yourself. Make an appearance at the party, try to have some fun while eating/drinking in moderation, attempt some networking, and thank the hosts/bosses before you leave.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.


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