Monday, January 1, 0001

The festive season is upon us and as usual, you’ll most probably be inundated with exciting party invitations. But, according to 1st for Women Insurance Brokers, the event where you will have to put your very best foot forward is definitely your office party.

“Most of these parties will be frivolous functions with friends, but a survey conducted in South Africa revealed that apparently 1 in 3 women will drink too much at an office party and do or say something that she’ll regret,” says Robyn Farrell, managing director of 1st for Women Insurance Brokers, “some of those mistakes might be forgettable but others might have more permanent consequences.”

“Mixing business and pleasure can be stressful because the persona that you have at work is often more composed and inhibited than your social persona,” explains Farrell.

Studies show that anxiety about fitting in, looking pretty enough and acting appropriately make women anxious about attending these dos. Unfortunately, you can’t really skip your office party as this will be seen as bad etiquette. But, there are certain things you can do to make the experience as painless—even fun—as possible.

Just like at work, dressing appropriately for the occasion is very important. Choose your party outfit carefully. “Make an effort to look stylish, but not too sexy, rather elegant and glam,” suggests Farrell. Plunging necklines with cleavages and very short skirts won’t go down too well. Make sure that you’re comfortable and that your outfit fits properly to avoid any embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions.

“Have a tipple to celebrate, but don’t overdo it! Staying sober is probably the most important rule of an office party,” affirms Farrell.

Most of the behaviour that will leave you feeling sheepish come Monday morning is due to alcohol consumption. If there ever was a time to be mindful of how many shooters you’ve had, it’s at the company do. You might find yourself drinking more than usual because you’re shy or because others are drinking more but rather stick to your own limits.

Slurring and stumbling around is not going to win you any fans or get you that corner office. Having a drink in your hand makes you look sociable, but that just means liquid. It could be vodka, or apple juice or water.

“Sip your drink of choice as slowly as possible and eat what’s on offer as you’re less likely to get drunk,” advises Farrell, “and make sure to drink lots of water in-between. If you’ve had a drink or two, definitely don’t drive drunk, call a reputable cab company.”

The office party is a good opportunity to chat to your boss in an informal setting but schmoozing is out. “By all means, be friendly but don’t monopolise the conversation or your boss. There’s nothing worse than being pushy. Make some polite conversation and then go and mingle,” says Farrell.

Try and learn the names of some of the head honchos at the party and go up and introduce yourself. Lastly, learn to make small-talk-- a skill that does not come easy to everyone. “Have some ice-breakers ready like: What's your connection to the company? Or what are your plans for the holidays?”

Flirting at office parties is something that should be avoided. If you must do it, then go outside or find somewhere private to talk. But, as in any situation, never put yourself in any danger and always let someone know where you are going.

The festive season is time to let any bad blood or office feuds go—and beware of drinking and gossiping- you never know who it standing behind you! Try to forget about that raise that you didn’t get or the position that went to someone else. The party is being given for your benefit so relax, enjoy yourself and attend with good grace.

“Remember that you don’t have to stay until the early hours,” adds Farrell, “1 ½ hours is a good amount of time to stay at the party, concluding, “These simple tips will ensure that this year, your office party doesn’t damage your reputation, but rather enhances it.”

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