During the holidays, it’s common for CEOs/owners/business leaders to “treat” employees with a company-wide gathering where employees are encouraged to “let your hair down” and enjoy themselves.

Don’t be fooled by the relaxed atmosphere. It does not imply you have the license to act out of control. One has to remember that they are still under the auspices of the company and there is a certain etiquette that should be observed.

In fact, during these casual workplace events, it is often assumed that if someone cannot handle themselves well at these events the employee cannot handle themselves well anywhere else. It can definitely have a negative impact on a workplace reputation without a stated duration.

Here are tips for participating in an office party:

  • Remember it is still a business function. No matter how many people – even at managerial level – tell you to “unwind” and “have fun,” this is not a social gathering with friends. Enjoy yourself, but be professional about it.
  • Consider the party as part of your job. No matter how you feel about bosses, coworkers or even how horrible you expect the party to be, show up for the event. Take time to speak to managers before leaving. As with any party, be sure to thank the host or hosts when you finally depart.
  • Don’t assume it is acceptable to bring a significant other, a date or friend without asking first. Most office parties are for employees only. If invitations are extended to guests, be sure to choose your companion wisely. Your guest’s behavior reflects upon you.
  • If alcohol is served, try to avoid it. Alcohol can make people do and say things they may regret. If you do drink, limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage. Not one type of alcoholic beverage repeatedly, one alcoholic beverage one time.
  • As you mingle, be sure you know who you are with at all times. You never want to be in a situation where you ask the CEO, CFO or other high-profile positioned individual, “What do you do here?”
  • Take a genuine interest in others and be a good listener. Don’t talk about work problems or politics.
  • Don’t tell off-color jokes, use foul language or talk behind anyone’s back. If you wouldn’t say it in the conference room, don’t say it at the party. And, if you don’t have something nice to say about someone don’t say it!
  • Don’t flirt, act provocatively or do something worse. A holiday party often provides the opportunity to see another side of coworkers and can bring you closer to people with whom you may not otherwise have much interaction. If you feel an attraction to a coworker, keep your feelings to yourself and approach the person during a more appropriate time outside of the workplace.
  • Be grateful for that which you’ve been afforded.
  • Most importantly, travel safely and uneventfully, always!

The choice is yours!

Stuart Friedman is president of Progressive Management Associates. He is a business visionary who guides organizations through cultural shifts. He promotes environments that inspire collaboration, transparency in the pursuit of strategic outcomes and heart-felt desires. Reach Stuart via email: stuart@pma-co.com