The Staff Party Survival Guide

It's that time of year again where some of us are either eager to party or mentally preparing ourselves for the inevitable: The Obligatory Holiday Staff Party. So how does one navigate through these treacherous waters? Here's our guide with tips and tricks on how to survive your holiday staff party!

Treat it like work

Because it is, and it's not your party. Approach the event as an opportunity to have a drink (or two, maximum) while at work. If you end up having some great conversations or making some new connections, that’s wonderful, but not the goal. The goal here is purely survival. Apply all the same rules of conduct to this event that you would apply to your dealings inside the office: stay away from controversial topics, dress appropriately, and maybe don’t eat an entire party tray.

Come prepared with some openers 

And we don’t mean your elevator pitch. Having a line or two ready to share about which department you work in and what current projects you’re working on will make introductions easier. When it comes to making some basic small talk, we like what communication expert Dr. Carol Fleming, author of It’s the Way You Say It: Becoming Articulate, Well-Spoken and Clear, has to say on the topic. Fleming follows what she’s dubbed as the A.R.E. method: Anchor, Reveal and Encourage. Anchor your conversation in a comment about the current environment. Reveal some personal opinion on the situation. Then encourage the person you’re with to share their thoughts through an open-ended question.

Keep the conversation professional 

For some of us, staff parties feel like the first chance we’ve had to get real with our co-workers, to vent about how we really feel about work and to open up about our personal lives. It’s time to bond! For the other half of us, it’s a non-stop battery of disclosures, one awkward confession after the next, and the event will forever be remembered as the last time we were able to think of a certain colleague without cringing.

Bring a buddy 

If you can bring a date (or a plus one or a comrade, really...) you’ll probably feel more comfortable and less likely to get stuck on the receiving end of an awkward conversation — or heaven forbid, creepy advances — from another party guest. If you attend with a friend from the office, you’ll have a well-trained wing person and you can both treat the event as an opportunity to mingle and navigate some professional small talk with a little support.

Put that phone away!

It goes without saying that our devices are irresistible distraction machines, able to shield us from the ever-present discomfort of basic human interaction. Show a little confidence in your own social skills and talk to the other people who are just as eager to escape into their email instead of meeting new people. Unless you have a small child at home, keep the phone away. If you do have young kids, tell the people you’re with and they won’t judge you for having your phone on the table. Otherwise they will — as they should.

Some other tips include having one hand free to shake with, avoid leaving too early, and to dress appropriately!

With that said, we wish you good luck party-goers!


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