Balancing Fun and Professionalism At The Holiday Office Party
Personal Business Skills Articles
Submit Articles Back to Articles
you planning to attend your office holiday party? I hope so. This is a
great occasion to relax and have a good time -- and can be a highly
anticipated, positive antidote to year-end stress. But anytime you
combine fun with professionalism, it can also be a challenge.
are ten tips to insure that you make a great impression while you mix
and mingle at the office party.
Prepare your “party intro”
way you greet your fellow party-goers can have a huge impact on their
perception of you. The best party introductions combine business
information with a personal twist. An example would be: “Hi, I’m
Stacy/Steven from Marketing. I’ve been with XYZ for just a few months,
and this is the first social event I’ve attended. It’s so nice to meet
Pick your spot
Investigator, Vanessa Van Edwards, advises stationing yourself near the
end of the bar so that, as people exit with a drink in hand, you can
start a conversation with something as simple as “Hi, is the red wine
good?” Her second favorite place to stand is at the end of the buffet
line, so that right after people fill their plate you can invite them
to join you in finding a place to sit. She also notes that you can
easily see by people’s body language which folks are searching for a
place to go (or scanning the room for a friendly face) and would
welcome the invitation.
nonverbal behaviors can bring out the best in people. Smiling is one of
them, as it directly influences how other people respond. When you
smile at someone, they almost always smile in return. And, because
facial expressions trigger corresponding feelings, the smile you get
back actually changes that person’s emotional state in a positive way.
probably knew that. But did you also know that slow onset smiles lead
to even more positive reactions? So, rather that approaching people
with a grin, begin with a slight smile and let it grow organically.
don’t close off. If you want people to see you as comfortable and
approachable, don't cross your arms and legs or use objects (your drink
or plate of food) as a barrier. Doing so makes you look guarded or
insecure. Instead, hold your glass or plate to the side of your body so
that the core of your body is exposed.
all, resist the urge to check your email or texts. Instead give other
party-goers your full attention. (This is a great time to improve your
eye contact by making a practice of noticing the eye color of everyone
you speak with at the event.)
Take a stand
project a poised and professional look, it is important to stand tall.
Slumping by rounding your shoulders and collapsing into your chest
makes you look vulnerable and submissive. When you stand tall, with
your shoulders pulled back, your feet about hip-distance apart, and
your head held high, you assume a posture of confidence and self-esteem.
Limit your alcohol
are many reasons why you should watch your drinking at an office party.
(And, I’m sure, many career-limiting examples of colleagues who
didn’t!) But one reason that might not be as obvious as others is that
alcohol impairs your ability to read body language. Brain imaging
research found that alcohol reduces the ‘coupling’ between the amygdala
and the orbitofrontal cortex - a part of the prefrontal cortex – and
inhibits the ability to assess and properly respond to nonverbal cues.
So if you want to accurately gauge how people are reacting to you, and
how to respond effectively, it’s advisable to stay sober.
Dress for success
make a visual statement about how you see yourself. Van Edwards and her
research team recently conducted a study about the impact of colors on
other people’s perception. They found that if you wear blue, you appear
to be calm, wise, and stable. Wearing orange or yellow makes you look
positive and upbeat. And red denotes passion, attention, and sexiness.
appearance is part of your personal brand. Think about the impression
you want to make and dress to accentuate it. You might even choose to
add a “conversation opener” – a colorful scarf or unique piece of
jewelry. In general, stylish and fun is fine, but flashy or too
revealing sends a message all its own.
Reach out and touch someone
considered to be the most primitive and essential form of
communication, we are programmed to feel closer to someone who has
touched us. In fact, touch is so potent and effective that a study on
handshakes (by the Income Center for Trade Shows) showed that people
are two times more likely to remember you if you shake hands with them.
The trade-show researchers also found that people react to those with
whom they shake hands by being more open and friendly.
office parties offer lots of opportunities for handshakes and even hugs
among colleagues, but be aware that not everyone likes to be embraced
or thinks it is an appropriate greeting in a business setting. Van
Edwards advises those who are reluctant to hug to subtly angle their
left shoulder away and quickly offer their right hand for a shake.
Watch for this signal and respect people’s right to choose.
Get up close - but not too personal
anthropologist, Edward Hall, coined the word “proxemics" to describe
phenomena like territoriality among business colleagues. And it was he
who first noted the physical zones in which people feel most
comfortable dealing with one another.
an office party, there's nothing wrong with leaning slightly toward the
person you’re talking to; in fact, this body language cue indicates
that you’re engaged and interested. But be respectful of other people’s
space. If you're at a business function in the U.S., (even if that
function is a party) never get closer than 18 inches. If you get any
closer, you risk entering the “intimate zone” that Americans reserve
for family and loved ones. Few people will feel comfortable if you
invade this personal space uninvited. (Another reason why some people
may not like hugs.)
Hallgren-Rezac and Judy Thomson, co-authors, WORK THE POND!
Use the Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Work and Life,
advise you to work the room in pairs. The role of each “tag teammate”
is to keep an eye on the other person, to make introductions, and to
make sure that both of you are comfortably engaged in conversations.
Show your gratitude
tip from these master networkers is to seek out the person who is
hosting the party. (This is probably an executive or senior leader.)
Thank him or her for sponsoring the event. You don’t have to go
overboard with praise, but acknowledge that you appreciate the chance
to connect with some new people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. If
this senior person is open to continuing the conversation, mention
something positive that your team is doing. (Think of one or two
examples ahead of time.) Of course, this is also a perfect time to
thank all your co-workers who have been helpful or supportive in the
lucky enough to be invited, you definitely should attend your office
holiday party. Don’t pass up the opportunity to have fun while
expanding your network, building your personal brand -- and making a
About the Author
Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. is
an international keynote speaker, leadership presence coach and author
of "The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or
Hurt - How You Lead.” She can be reached at Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com
or through her website: Authors Google+
Follow us @Scopulus_News