Make us your home page
Working | Holiday parties

Avoid office party faux pas

Holiday office parties are supposed to be fun, but the reality is that they are stressful or even disastrous for your career if you say or do the wrong things. Don Gabor, author of How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends, shares some of the most common mistakes and tips on how not to put your foot in your mouth. Special to the Times

Making inappropriate comments — even in jest

Using sexual innuendos or telling off-color jokes at the holiday office party is a sure-fire way to attract attention, but not the kind that you want. This faux pas makes it plain that you don't understand boundaries, and it can quickly send your career into a downward spiral. Never forget that the holiday office party is a business, not social, situation where most of the rules of business etiquette apply.

Not shaking hands

Whether you are a man or woman, not offering to shake hands will peg you as: a) unsure of modern business etiquette, b) old-fashioned, and c) sexist. At today's holiday office party and everywhere else, for that matter — excluding religious, cultural or physical reasons — both men and women should take the initiative to shake hands.

Only chatting with your officemates

Shooting the breeze for a few minutes at holiday office parties with your colleagues is all part of the fun, but if you stay ensconced in your closed circle of friends too long, new co-workers, prospects or others will quickly cast you and your colleagues as cliquish, disinterested and not open to outsiders. Also, don't stay in one place too long. Doing so will make you appear shy, self-conscious and lacking confidence. Better to briefly say hello to your buddies, grab a few bites to eat and then introduce yourself to others you want to get to know better.

Asking too many closed-ended questions in a row

You're at a holiday office party — not a job interview or interrogation. Asking three or more closed-ended questions in a row may make others feel uncomfortable and definitely not win you any communication awards. Instead, show interest by asking open-ended questions that encourage others to elaborate and reveal free information. Then based on what you hear that interests you, respond with followup questions and information of your own.

Talking too much or too little about yourself

Sure people love to talk about themselves, but if you are the one doing all the talking at the holiday office party, chances are you're boring the other guests. On the other hand, if you are too tight-lipped, then your conversation will quickly die on the vine for lack of interest and enthusiasm. The remedy here is to exchange information about various light subjects at about the same rate so that you both know what each other enjoys and likes to talk about.

Complaining or gossiping about colleagues or clients

It may be tempting or even well-deserved, but never get involved in a disparaging conversation about a colleague, client or anyone else while attending a holiday office party. You can get burned simply by being near those who do. All it takes is an over-competitive, jealous or a toady co-worker attributing crass comments made in the group about your boss, colleague or client to you and your name along with the others will be mud for a long time. The best thing to do is get out of the conversation quickly. However, if you are trapped, then take the initiative and bring up something that moves the conversation to a more positive topic.

Avoid office party faux pas 12/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 17, 2010 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains


    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]
  2. Florida GDP growth in first quarter 2017 ranks 21st among states, still outpacing U.S.

    Economic Development

    Florida's gross domestic product or GDP rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter, slightly faster than the nation's growth of 1.2 percent and placing Florida 21st among the states for growth rates, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    Not too hot. Not too cold.

    These Jackson Square Townhomes began hitting the west Hillsborough County market late last year and continued to be sold into the first quarter of 2017. The real estate sector was the biggest driver of Florida's gross domestic product, which rose 1.4 percent in the first quartrer of 2017.  [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  3. A new app will help you find your favorite Tampa Bay food trucks

    Food & Dining

    What's new: Food tech

    Local food businesses are embracing new technologies and partnerships to bring us extra deliciousness.

    Michael Blasco of Tampa Bay Food Trucks says that everyone always asked about an app to help find their favorite food trucks. There is, available for iPhones and Droids.
  4. Another Pinellas foreclosure auction fools bidders, raises questions

    Real Estate

    For the second time in six weeks, a company connected to lawyer Roy C. Skelton stood poised to profit from a Pinellas County foreclosure auction that confused even experienced real estate investors.

    A Palm Harbor company bid  $112,300 for  this Largo townhome at a foreclosure auction July 21 not realizing the auction involved a second mortgage, connected to lawyer and  real estate investor Roy Skelton -- and that the bank could still foreclose on the  first mortgage.
  5. Clearwater-based USAmeriBank acquired by New Jersey bank in $816 million deal


    CLEARWATER — USAmeriBancorp, Inc., based in Clearwater, is being acquired by New Jersey's Valley National Bancorp in an $816 million deal, it was announced today.

    Joe Chillura, CEO of USAmeribank, shown inside a branch in Ybor City in this file photo.