Tag Archives: Party

What to Say and Not Say at Your Company’s Holiday Party

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when businesses across the globe become more festive than ever-with holiday music piped throughout the buildings, dazzling decorations and of course a big party to celebrate the season.

At these parties, you’re sure to participate in conversation with your colleagues. What an opportunity this gives you to create bonds with newcomers, and to enrich longtime workplace partnerships!

You don’t want to can these conversations, of course, because they would come across as artificial and robotic. It’s helpful, though, to keep in mind some guidelines that will make the evening more pleasant for everybody you associate with-and prompt your teammates to remember you more favorably. So I suggest you consider these four tips for chit chat at your club’s annual party.

FIRST: Steer away from politics. Because many of us stay informed by watching the news, we get saturated with interviews and commentary about who the good guys and ladies are and likewise who are the bad ones. Most of us hope that when we go to our corporate party, we won’t be bombarded again with conversation about indictments, treason, accusations, lawsuits, resignations, firings, inappropriate comments, e-mail misuse and other distressing topics.

Not only are you and your colleagues weary of hearing political pundits who seem to get paid by the word, there’s another fact to consider: In most cases, talking about politics is not going to change anybody’s mind-either yours or theirs. What happens instead is that highly opinionated people will get frustrated, angry, and even hostile.

The recent funeral for President George H.W. Bush reminded me of his call for a “kinder, gentler nation.” Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. Too many zealots bristle when more moderate individuals question their judgment.

SECOND: Stay highly positive. This is not a time for gloom and doom. We get so much of that the rest of the year. For a couple of hours, all of us want to unwind and remain upbeat. Examples:

–We may be tempted to say, “Service at our table seems especially slow. That table over there is enjoying desserts, while our main course hasn’t even arrived.”

In place of that negative approach, you could comment: “Well, I noticed that other table got its dessert sooner than we got our food. But I commend those food service professionals-they have a big assignment serving so many meals at one time. Amazing how well they do!

–Again, we may be tempted to say, “Aren’t you shivering? Below freezing outside, and feels like that here, too”? Far better to stand and say, “I’m going to ask our host if he can adjust this thermostat. I think we’d more comfortable with a couple of more degrees of heat.”

Reminds me of one of the times my wife and I took a cruise. Every night we ate with the same two couples. One couple was jovial, upbeat, and positive. The other couple spent the entire dinner talking about all that had gone wrong that day. Guess which couple we remember fondly and would want to dine with again.

THIRD: For tip number three, be very careful about your jokes and off-the-cuff remarks. Headlines throughout the year have confirmed this new reality: language that might have been tolerated previously has become unacceptable, offensive and in extreme cases leads to highly undesirable publicity and even legal action.

Naturally, we can still compliment another party goer about how they look and how well they dance. Tastefully expressed compliments are welcomed. Good judgment tells us the language borders we shouldn’t cross.

FOURTH: My fourth tip is also very important for conversation. Long ago I read this advice somewhere: “When holding a conversation, be sure to let go of it once in a while.”

Think for a minute about the men and women you enjoy being with the most. Chances are strong that you will not name the gentlemen or lady who tells many long-winded stories that dominate the time with you. Quite the opposite… you’ll

have high esteem for the acquaintance who makes remarks like these:

“Very interesting… tell me more… then what happened?”

When you become the keenest listener at your club’s party, you can easily become the most memorable conversationalist.

In closing, I recommend putting these talking tips into action at your company’s holiday party. You’ll be glad you did, and so will everybody you associate with at the event.

Ten Do’s and Don’ts of a Company Holiday Party

DON’T – Drink too much. It can easily happen to the best of us. You’re talking, and drinking, not eating a full meal as you nibble on tiny tartlets and dip. One glass turns into four. Be conscious of your alcohol consumption. No one wants to be taken home by their significant other, only for the office to talk about their inability to control their drinking for the next two years.

DO – MINGLE! You are not here to talk with your date all night. You can talk to them whenever you please. Reach out to coworkers. Ask them about the sports their children are playing. Compliment your coworker’s wife’s dress, or jewelry. There is ALWAYS something you can talk about, and if the conversation expires, it’s easy enough to excuse yourself and move on.

DON’T – Talk about; religion, politics, or sex. Remember that while you are enjoying yourself, this is still a professional atmosphere. You are not at home on the sofa watching The Bachelor with your girlfriends. Avoid any off color jokes. While you may THINK you know your audience, there is always a chance you don’t. You could potentially find yourself in an irreconcilable disagreement with a coworker that could go far beyond this party.

DO – Dress nicely, not suggestively. We all know that person that uses the holiday party to show off what they can’t at work. Consider this party still “at work.” You can look nice, potentially sexy even, but no one will think it’s cute if you come in that Santa dress you bought for a Christmas party in college. Save the cleavage for a girl’s night out.

DON’T – Bring Children. Unless otherwise specified by your host, do not bring children. While you may find them to be the cutest, funniest children in the world, bringing kids hinders everyone else’s good time. Children can be noisy, lacking in self control, and at risk to break things even when supervised. If they weren’t specifically invited, they don’t belong at the company party.

DO – Clean up after yourself if the event is hosted in a home. While empty wine glasses and dirty plates get swept up at a catered event, this is often not the case in someone’s residence. Your hostess will more than appreciate you getting your trash in the trash, and dishes into the kitchen.

DON’T – Overstay your welcome. Don’t be the last person to leave, hanging off the arm of your coworker. Everyone is there to have a good time, but all good times must come to an end before they become bad times.

DO – Bring a hostess gift. This applies only if the party is hosted at someone’s house. A bottle of wine is always a good bet, but pretty Christmas cookies, seasonal coffee, and small holiday gifts are always great as well.

DON’T – Partake in office gossip. This should be a professional tip that is followed ALWAYS, inside or outside of the office. Not only is it trashy, but it paints you in a poor light. You don’t need to whisper about the secretary who is getting a divorce. Or that your office mate won’t be here this time next year because you heard he’s getting fired. If it’s not something you would want people sharing about YOU, don’t partake in sharing it about others.

DO – Know your date. Keep in mind this person is a representation of yourself and the type of person you spend your time with. If this isn’t a spouse or long term boyfriend or girlfriend, make sure you haven’t just called up the most recent date you had and invited them to your company Christmas party. This could go south very quickly. You may not know who this person is when they drink and loosen up. They might share opinions that weren’t asked for, or worse, come off as insulting to your coworkers.

Armed with these tips, you can be sure your holiday parties will be fun, professional, merry and bright.

A Fail-Safe Holiday Party Strategy

The holiday season is here, bringing Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs opportunities to become their own Santa Claus and put some new customers under the tree. Holiday parties can be the perfect time to pick up the thread with colleagues from the past, nurture relationships with prospects you’ve recently met and get an introduction to customers you’d like to add to your roster in the near future. To make all that happen, you’ll need a strategy.

Step One, go to your parties alone. Under no circumstances do you need to drag someone along with you, unless that person is needed to get you into a party where you can expect to meet prospective customers, or that person promises to introduce you to a good prospect while there.

Even that arrangement can be risky— a few years ago, I was invited to what should have been a networking bonanza, except that my friend got very drunk and worse, he reneged on bringing me into a post-party meeting with someone who could have been very helpful to me.

Sep Two, confirm the dress code. A weekend party held after 6:00 PM will imply fancier dress and could be black-tie optional. If you are the +1, ask your contact to forward you the invitation. You do not want to show up improperly dressed, even if your contact claims that it won’t matter.

Men should wear a sport coat or blazer, if a suit would be too formal for the occasion. Women should avoid too-short or too-tight clothing and revealing necklines. Jeans or leather pants are out of the question for either gender, unless your host is in the arts or high-tech.

Step Three, find out who is on the guest list and Step Four, polish your elevator pitch. If you can access the Evite, you will see who has responded. You can Google names to get professional updates on those you’d like to reconnect with or meet and you’ll also know which subjects to “spontaneously” bring up.

However, be mindful that talking business could be a turn-off at a party, unless the other person raises the subject. Focus instead on scheduling post-party follow-up with selected people who would like to know more about your products and services.

While at the party, greet and thank your host straight away, before you visit the bar or the buffet. After that relax, mix and mingle. Have handy some friendly ice-breakers that will open the door to conversation (“How do you know [the host]?”).

Eating and drinking are party highlights, but take it easy with the drinking. I recommend that you have not more than one drink and then switch to a non-alcoholic beverage. You must be sober to successfully execute your networking strategy.

Furthermore, you’ll also need to master the drink and hors d’oeuvres plate juggle. Hold your drink in your left hand, so that you can shake hands easily and not give a cold, damp greeting. Likewise, eat hors d’oeuvres with your left hand, so you don’t offer a sticky handshake.

Finally, pay attention to the ebb and flow of guests. Unless you’re in a serious conversation, when their number begins to fade, find your host, thank him/her for the invitation and take your leave. There is an optimum time to arrive at and leave a party. Arriving 15- 20 minutes after the start time usually works. The next day, send a quick email to thank your host for a lovely time. After all, a good party is a wonderful thing and you want to get invited back next year!

Thanks for reading,

Kim