It’s officially silly season here in Cape Town (and probably elsewhere in the world too). As everything winds down towards the end of the year, everyone starts to ease up a bit on the work front and become a little bit more social, especially at that end of year office party. This all-important social occasion and the challenges such events present both for a person’s professional reputation and also in terms of personal relationships is the focus of my post today.
We all know that such social occasions are an opportunity to let your hair down, have a few cheeky beverages and become more closely acquainted with your colleagues. But as much fun as office parties can be with all that free-flowing booze you can rinse your employer of, it’s important to keep your wits about you and try not to completely destroy your life just for one night of debauchery. So here are some useful tips to keep all you rinsers on the straight and narrow this festive season:
DO: Think of it as a networking opportunity.
Ugh, I know I’m going to sound like some sort of careers advisor now but here goes. While there are some people feel used and abused by their employer and might utilise the office year-end function as a means to rinse the corporate devil they perform slave labour for by taking advantage of the free food, booze, etc but there are also loads of people for whom spending additional time with their colleagues is considered a fate worse than death where no amount of free stuff can lessen the boredom factor.
Well, if you find that you aren’t all that excited about getting plastered with a bunch of people you despise and already spend too much time with then the only way is to look at it as a networking opportunity. If you work in a big company perhaps you can get chatting to people in other departments and find out about new job openings or maybe over a couple of glasses of wine you can connect with the CEO over your common interest in running marathons. Who knows these new ‘friendly’ relationships you build with you colleagues might lead to the big bucks come January?
DON’T : Go overboard on the free booze and make a fool out of yourself
There are numerous occasions in our lives where we all ‘decide’ to let loose when it comes to booze/drugs. It’s one thing going overboard and dancing on the table at your own housewarming. You could even be forgiven for using champagne to lose your inhibitions and tell that family member who is trying to swindle you out of your inheritance what you really think of them over Xmas lunch. However, the one place you really don’t want to make a fool of yourself is at work. Getting drunk at the office party and kissing a colleague or telling your boss that they are a fat hypocrite isn’t going to go down well.
So exercise restraint (I know it’s hard when the booze is free) and don’t open yourself up to office gossip (or a disciplinary hearing).
DON’T: Use it as an occasion to start an office romance or shag your way to the top
A third of relationships start in the workplace and sure you’ve been crushing on the guy from accounts for the past 6 months but the office party is not the place to start something. Not only is : ‘Once upon a time I got intoxicated at the year-end shindig…’ a rubbish start to a fairytale but nothing goes unnoticed by the resident office gossip and your little tryst at the Mount Nelson will be front page news come January if you are not careful.
If you are less romantically inclined should also be careful not to misconstrue my first piece of advice about using the office party as a networking opportunity too seriously. Of course your boss might be a bit friendlier at the party but this isn’t your chance to get your claws in and get that promotion you’ve been waiting for.
Remember he/she probably has a wife/hubby and a couple of kids at home. Plus you are a clever guy/girl and you are totally capable of climbing the career ladder without pimping yourself out!
If all else fails…at least try to be discreet
And if after all these wise words I’ve imparted on you well then at least try to be discreet in whatever sordid acts you decide to get up to at the office party.
Regardless, you are likely to wake up with a hangover but ideally, the only thing you should be regretting are those moves you were busting out on the dancefloor. Waking up knowing that you’ve probably destroyed your own relationship or a few others isn’t going to be the greatest feeling in the world nor is knowing that you are going to be the topic of conversation at the office water cooler for the foreseeable future.
OK Rinsers. It’s your turn. Share your office party disaster stories and advice on how to behave in the comments below.