‘Tis the season to be jolly — but maybe not at your office holiday party. According to Glamour Magazine writer Jennifer Wallace, as many as 50 percent of employees actually dread going to these events.
“We don’t like to blur the lines between social and work. We understand the boundaries when we’re at the office, we understand the boundaries at a party. And this is kind of an awkward way to bring the two together,” Wallace explained on “CBS This Morning” Friday.
As she writes in her new article, “Your Office Holiday Party Survival Guide,” one study of 2,000 British workers found nearly 60 percent admitted to going to great lengths to avoid small talk — from hiding out in the bathroom to pretending to be on a phone call.
The latter, however, wouldn’t be the best solution at an office holiday party, Wallace said.
“You’re there for everyone to see, so you really have to learn how to make that small talk and have those conversations,” she said.
Employees may not feel comfortable initiating those conversations, especially with the boss. Our fear of mingling may have evolutionary roots in history, from when tribe acceptance was a form of survival.
But mingling is important, Wallace said, because it show you’re a part of the team and company culture. Wallace said the holiday party also offers a place for conversation and networking. One survey found 85 percent of jobs are found through networking. But you shouldn’t actively seek a new job or promotion at the party.
Wallace acknowledged that it’s “very hard” to earn points at a Christmas party, and “really easy” to lose them.
She offers these tips to help you break the ice:
- Pay people compliments.
- Ask about holiday plans.
- Read body language.
- Follow up after the event.
She said party conversations should last no more than about 10 to 15 minutes. Wallace advised that at the end of the conversation, you should ease your way out by saying things like, “Oh, one more thing before I let you go,” or “Where’s the bar?”
One final note to consider: one survey found 75 percent of employees hooked up at a holiday party. That, Wallace said, is the “fastest way” to derail your career.