Surviving your office holiday party

12 December 2013

Hong Kong, 13 December, 2013– Tis the season to be merry, but for some the office Christmas gatherings can be an awkward, uncomfortable affair.


Robert Half, the world's first and largest specialised recruitment firm, has come up with some awkward situations you might encounter and tips for navigating them gracefully.


Awkward situations

This could be something as simple as starting a conversation with your boss' spouse. You've met him or her before on several occasions, but it quickly becomes clear he doesn’t remember you at all.

Ms. Pallavi Anand, Director of Robert Half in Hong Kong, says first and foremost, don't be offended. Nearly everyone has made a similar mistake.


Before you get too deep in conversation, reintroduce yourself and remind the person that you've met before: "I'm so sorry, I should have told you my name again. I'm Pallavi, and I work with your partner in the finance department. We last saw each other at the company dinner earlier this year."


Inappropriate conversations

Even if you enjoy passionate debates about politics for example, an office gathering in Hong Kong is not the place to engage in your favourite pastime. Not only can the conversation get heated quickly but an argument over such a sensitive subject could make the people around you uncomfortable.

In this situation, avoid weighing in on the topic and try to gently steer the conversation toward a safer one, says Ms. Anand.

Overheard comments

Everybody loves a good laugh and a groan but employees need to be careful. Unless your boss approaches you and asks about your comments directly, there's no telling if he or she heard your conversation and knows about your joke or displeasure.

Ms. Anand recommends that your best move is to quickly change the subject and steer clear of work-related topics for the rest of the night. If your manager does ask about your conversation, be honest. Also keep in mind that there may be consequences as a result of your indiscreet remarks so be a little more careful with your conversations in future.

Tongue tied

This party gives you an opportunity to make a good impression, so what you say to your superiors is important. Smile, tell the boss how nice it is to meet him or her and say that you’re enjoying the party.

The conversation does not have to be long. Chances are he or she will need to move on to chat with other people fairly quickly. Ms. Anand says if you have time to prepare before the ‘chat’, plan few quick talking points about the celebration or holiday plans to avoid any awkward silence.

Inappropriate behaviour

Keeping the interaction professional at holiday parties is important.  Having one too many drinks and behaving inappropriately will reflect poorly on you, even in a casual setting.  Be mindful that you are with your colleagues and most importantly, your boss, at this party.  Avoid getting too intoxicated to the extent that may lead you to regretting your actions later.

If you spot a workmate stumbling around, do what you can to help the person avoid doing more damage to his/her reputation. Get your colleague a chair and some water, find a friend who can help or even call the person a cab. Also, don't gossip about the person at the office the next day. He or she will be embarrassed enough.

Finally, Ms. Anand says, it can seem like the holiday party is less about having fun and more about avoiding potential pitfalls. But if you remember these rules, you're likely to make a strong impression with everyone you meet – and have a good time.

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