How Not To Behave At The Office Party

What a stressful year. ISIS. Ebola. Congressional gridlock and an economy that’s growing anemically while wages stagnate. You’d think that at the office holiday party you could grab a glass of bubbly, let your hair down and speak your mind.

Don’t do it. The office fête is not the place for unconstrained chatter. It’s also not the place for personal confession, expressions of frustration or speechifying about what you’d do with the company if you were in charge.

Instead, remember that you are at a professional function and behave that way. That means listening as much as talking, keeping your conversation on safe subjects like hobbies, movies or family and deferring to superiors.

BACtrack Vio Smartphon... Best Price: null Buy New $49.99 (as of 09:55 EST - Details) “Don’t outshine people who need the spotlight, or hold some aspect of job security in your hands,” advises John Challenger, chief executive of the worldwide outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. “The holiday party is a great time to build relationships. Don’t get into behaviors that might cause relationships to deteriorate or be damaged.”

John Bliss, the founder of BlissPR in Manhattan, never liked to take chances. More than 15 years ago he started a tradition of pre-party pizza dinners. The company orders enough pies for its 30-member New York staff at around 4:30 in the afternoon and tries to make sure everyone has a few slices. It’s a guarantee no one will be drinking on an empty stomach.

“It’s like blotting paper,” he says. “That way, you can have fun without getting embarrassed.” Bliss recently retired but the company is carrying on the tradition. Companies like BlissPR have a lot at stake. When they invite LES Labs DeToxx for Ha... Buy New $19.99 (as of 10:49 EST - Details) clients to their parties, the last thing they need is a drunken staffer.

A few more companies are serving alcohol at holiday parties this year, according to an annual survey of holiday celebrations by the executive search firm BattaliaWinston. Seventy-three percent of companies say they plan to have alcoholic beverages, up one point from last year. Alcohol service hit a high in 2000, when 90% of firms offered it, according to the 26 years of Battalia reports.

The dangers of excessive alcohol consumption are well known, but cautionary tales are worth retelling: Annmarie Woods recalls a holiday gathering a few years ago for her sales team at a leading financial services firm. The group began their party at a downtown restaurant and then headed to a dance club. The evening being celebratory, their boss picked up the bill for a limousine to get them from the restaurant to the club. While en route, one of the staffers vomited into Woods’ purse.

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