Yule be sorry: Don't wreck your work reputation at holiday soiree

Posted: Monday, December 12, 2005

The holidays are wrought with holiday parties and offsite work engagements that require employees to distinguish the vague line between what's appropriate for work and what's appropriate for a holiday party. While there is certainly no shortage of tales about Rick from marketing having one too many cocktails and dancing on the table, knowing the ins and outs of these engagements is a necessity.

Be there, be square

Sunny Kobe Cook, author of "Common Things Uncommon Ways: Proven Techniques to Grow Any Business Through Your Staff" (Achievement Dynamics Inc., $19.95) says there are a few key rules to know prior to attending any office party.

"The most important thing is for both the employee and the employee's guest to remember a holiday party is really just another type of interview," she explains. "That means you: One, need to be there; two, need to dress appropriately; and three, behave appropriately."

Kobe Cook says that drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum, because employers may equate your behavior to how you would behave with clients or customers. Additionally, while it might be tempting to skip the celebration all together, doing so can be just as damaging to your reputation.

"Often, the holiday party is one of the few times your boss sees you outside the office environment and how you dress, behave and who you associate with tells us volumes about your promotion potential," she says. "Staying away says you aren't very company-minded, so skipping the party is also not a good idea."

Talk the talk

Etiquette experts advise coming to a party prepared to make light conversation about something other than work. Reading the newspaper or keeping up with the day's news is an excellent source for polite chitchat.

"For the sake of your guests and fellow workers who would prefer to keep the event social, refrain from 'talking shop,'" adds Jacqueline Whitmore, author of "Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work" (St. Martin's Press, $19.95)."

Whitmore advises office partygoers to eat a small dinner prior to your arrival, that way you can avoid immediately heading for the food and drink.

"Scope out the crowd first and the goodies second," she adds. "Avoid piling hors d'oeuvres on your cocktail napkin or plate as each server passes, and resist the urge to talk with your mouth full of food. Also, carry your glass in your left hand so you can shake with your right - no one likes to receive a cold, wet handshake."

- Lisa Radke



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