Holiday Party Career Crushers

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Wow, the year goes by and everything has changed… except the potential for bad behavior at the company holiday party. So it’s that time of year to remind everyone about holiday party protocol.

The rules are simple:

  • Remember that anything crazy you do will end up on YouTube. Your feats of daring will become part of your permanent record at the company, so to speak.
  • Dress as if you are going to a very festive wedding, not like you are going to a nightclub.
  • Take a taxi or a ride sharing service if you had too much to drink. Arrest records are even less funny come Monday morning.
  • Thank everyone you meet and let them know you are happy to be a part of the team, even if it’s not true.
  • Don’t do any thing that will cost you your job.

There is a long list of boorish behaviors that can happen at the company holiday party. A few drinks and a sense of freedom can embolden even the shyest member of the team. My favorite is when one of my tipsy colleagues did an embarrassing rendition of “Love Shack” with the band. It was an image that was burnt into everyone’s memory.

Emotional outbursts, saying things that one will regret, inappropriate flirtations and all the other activities that reflect poor judgment are always on the list of What Not to Do at the Holiday Party.

But there are two other more subtle actions that can get you into trouble or hurt you.

The first is not too much drinking; it’s too much tweeting. The holiday party is considered a “safe” zone. That is, like Las Vegas, what happens there is supposed to stay there. (Even though it is true neither of the holiday party or Las Vegas.) A “safe” zone might be the last remnant of perceived privacy. A private company event should not be publicly tweeted about to followers. While at times well-intended, other tweets can be snarky – about what someone was wearing, who shows up with who, if the party is boring, and who was drinking too much. All of that may be true but tweeting about it will come back to haunt you. Especially if your Twitter feed is public (companies do monitor those). Leave the tweet engine at home.

Another different, but equally dangerous holiday party trap, is dancing with your boss’s spouse. Do so at your own peril because there is a lot to lose and not much to gain. If you are a great dancer, you will not endear yourself to your boss when the spouse says, “Why can’t you dance like that?” If you are like Elaine from Seinfeld in the dance talent world, you will raise a few eyebrows too. Probably best to just leave the boss’s spouse alone or it could show up in the white space of your performance review.

Oh yeah, one more rule on company holiday parties. Go and have a good time.

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