Keep your Christmas cheer in check!

Drinking too much over the work party season could damage your career
Drinking too much over the work party season could damage your career

While Christmas is a time when many enjoy a few drinks with their colleagues, excessive drinking at a work Christmas party can spell disaster for your career



16 December 2011

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Barry Whelan advises workers to use the Christmas party season as a way to network in a relaxed atmosphere and not get carried away with the festivities!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, time for the annual Christmas party, the supplier/customer drinks, the Grocer’s lunch and the odd award ceremony. And whilst these events are important for a myriad of reasons, the most being relationship building, they are also a recipe for career disaster that can spell an end to promotional opportunities. A few too many glasses of merlot on an empty stomach can turn a professional Christmas gathering into an excruciating and career-limiting event.
The Christmas work party offers a great opportunity to socialise with colleagues and develop relationships. It’s a wonderful time to mingle with co-workers in a less pressured and more informal setting. It might give you a chance to personally thank those who have been helpful throughout the year. It could even be an opportunity to meet with senior management, either to introduce yourself or get to know them in a more informal way.

The desire to relax and have a good time, particularly during these recessionary times, can be a much looked forward to antidote to work stress. However, combining the desire to let your hair down and a few too many drinks can be a recipe for disaster. This is not the time to complain about your boss, or co-workers, or indeed the company and your role in it. How many times have we seen people make a fool of themselves at events like these and really live to regret it? Enjoying oneself at the Christmas party is a must, but always remember; you’re still in work. Inappropriate remarks or behaviour may not only cost you a promotion, but quite possibly in the long term a job.

In fact, watching what you say and do is only part of the challenge. Another personal dynamic you should be aware of is the impact of your body language. In all workplace situations, including after-hours parties, your nonverbal behaviour speaks volumes. The trick is to physically embody the messages that you want delivered. Here are some body language tips that will help your Christmas office party or supplier/customer function to be a personal and professional success for you:
• Develop an inclusive, welcoming attitude. Make others feel welcome and at ease. Approaching people with this attitude will immediately resonate in a positive way.

Stand tall. As you pull your shoulders back and hold your head high, you assume a posture of confidence, self-esteem and control.
Shake hands — but don’t go overboard. The way you greet your fellow party-goers can have a huge impact on their perception of you. A firm handshake is a business skill worth developing, and a light touch on the arm or shoulder can create an instant bond. But if you hang on people or touch them too frequently, you send unintended signals of neediness or flirtation.  
Mirror the other person’s gestures and expressions. When we meet others for the first time, subconsciously we scan the other person’s body to see if they move or gesture in a similar way to us. When you subtly mimic the person you are speaking to, it is a way of silently saying, “We are alike. We feel the same and have the same attitudes.”

Smile. A smile is an invitation, a sign of welcome. Smiling directly influences how other people respond to you. The human brain prefers happy faces, recognising them more quickly than those with negative expressions.

Make positive eye contact. Looking at someone’s eyes indicates interest and openness.

Lean in slightly. Leaning forward shows you’re engaged and interested, but also be respectful of other people’s space.

Use open arm movements and show the palms of your hands. Those gestures are subconsciously evaluated as positive, candid and persuasive. But keep your gestures below shoulder level. Flailing your arms in the air will not look enthusiastic, only erratic.

By all means, attend the Christmas office gathering and have a good time. Just remember, you’re at a work-related social event that is just as important as any other business function. Lastly a great tip for enjoying these events successfully is a very simple one; don’t drink on an empty stomach.

Keep these tips in mind and use the office party to make a good impression, show off your sparkling personality, and advance, not derail your career!



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