More promising careers have been ruined during the Office Christmas Party than at any other time.
If your company provides a free bar then be doubly careful. Drink as little as possible.
Leave getting plastered at the office bash to the spotty office junior. He is the one who drinks to get pissed as quickly as possible and is after a good time.
You are not there to have a good time. You can have a good time when you have climbed the corporate ladder. But if you have been careless and had a skinful, that 17 year snake-hipped trainee accountant can look doubly devastating. Very tempting! If he has downed several vodkas and his inhibitions have gone AWOL and he comes up to you and says ” Come on – dance with me” dance with him – but keep your distance. Do not touch. No crotch-grinding or butt-holding. You may not think it, but you are being watched.
The most common mistake is the prat or pratess who has far too much to drink and then bumps into the boss who is at the bar ordering another bitter lemon. The scenario plays itself out something like this: ” Hey boss, how ya doin’ ?”
Boss looks round to be confronted by a shiny grinning red face atop a cheap suit who then shouts across the bar ” Another double, Carlos and ‘ave one yourself. So George – ‘avin’ a good time?” Boss looks uncomfortable because he has been in this situation every year for the last ten years and only his wife calls him George.
Idiot grabs the half-pint of G&T and looks at George’s bitter lemon. “Can’t take it eh George? What you reckon then George. Great bunch eh George. You know you’ve got a good team there George. Brilliant they are! What’s your Missus reckon to you coming to these do’s with all this young talent then? Eh George?”
George smiles meekly as Idiot puts his arm around George and breathes sick-smelling breath into his face. George smiles because he knows exactly what Idiot is going to say next. “We’re like a faaamily here ain’t we George? Eh George? Faaaaaaaaamly – that’s what we are, George.”
George nods and he also knows the next line: ” Don’t get me wrong George because you know what you’re doing. But I’ve got a few ideas that I’d like to tell you about………..”
And so it goes on.
Finally George escapes and Idiot says to his mates from the Post Room ” That George – he’s a great bloke. Had a really good chat with ‘im. He liked my ideas. One of the lads ‘e is! Good bloke!”
Inhibitions are GOOD things to have – especially at the office party. Drink enough so as not to appear too stiff but be careful.
Business talk of any description is not for the Office Party. Small talk is.
Small talk is talking about nothing through a process of interruption and association of ideas. You need to be a master of small-talk. There is no short-cut to learning small-talk and it comes only with practice.
Talking social bollocks is a deceptively difficult art.
During the office party, someone will ask your boss to dance – this is normally taken as a cue that the boss is “approachable” – “one of us”. When your boss dances , look away. Certainly do not laugh – find someone to talk to – even an Accountant. By this stage of the party even the Accountants will have loosened the top button of their cardigans. As you engage the Accountant in a fascinating conversation on P/E ratios and Return-on-Capital-Employed, look out of the corner of your eye and you will see an uncoordinated object flailing about on the dance floor. It will be your boss.
There will be those who will be taking the mickey out of the boss’s self-conscious contortions. Avert your gaze , concentrate on the Accountant and practice yawning with your mouth shut. If you do happen to catch your boss’s eye, smile, give a thumbs-up and then look away immediately.
If you do happen to meet the boss at the bar, make a point of saying “Saw you bopping away there earlier. Still fit then?”
“Been doing this for years!”
” I could see that! Wow!” you reply as you slither away.
Other simple-to-follow rules such as do not vomit or lose consciousness are self-evident but it is always surprising the number of people who seem hell-bent on screwing their careers up by spilling their alcohol after they have drunk it and then going to sleep.
Incidentally, you will be constantly surprised by the number of beautiful young things whose boyfriends are garage mechanics called Gary or Dave. They always have dirty fingernails and an earring. They tend to have the brain (and the conversation) of an Isopod.
” So you’re Gary? Mandy’s told me all about you”. Mandy giggles into her Bailey’s.
” Pleased to meet you, Gary. Bye.” – End of conversation. Easy.
If you do get stuck with talking to Gary, he will probably ask you “what motor” you drive. You tell him ” Just an M5 BMW” . Gary will then tell you that he once serviced one and that he drives a white psycho-nutter bastard Fiesta 1.2 Megaspeed with a million watt quad channel CD stereo which once made his ears bleed at the traffic lights opposite Waitrose. Just smile politely and leave. Do not be tempted to out-talk him. He is too stupid.
There may come a time during the evening when your boss stands up to tell a “story” or even tell you a “joke”. Only one simple rule to follow here – laugh. Throw you head back and LAUGH! Remember your boss is the wittiest person on the planet. Never ever attempt to out-joke the boss. If you do, the boss will just smile politely and make a mental note. And if he tells a naughty joke, do not tell one back. You do not know any dirty jokes until you make it to the Boardroom.
Many potential executives arrive at the office party in outfits which are – how can one put it? – embarrassing. Make sure that whatever you wear to work-related social events is in keeping with your image. You have nothing to prove to the youngsters in the office. There is nothing more excruciating than a thirty or forty-something trying to look like a seventeen-year-old raver.
Also remember that you may think that you are looking cool on the dance floor “doing your own thing”. In fact, if you are over 25, it is impossible to look good on the dance floor. You are still doing the one step that you learned twenty years ago – it is only the ingestion of alcohol that has distorted your senses enough to lead you to believe that you are dancing. You are not dancing – you are flailing your arms about, clicking your fingers and stepping from side to side. That is not dancing – it is being an arse. Keep it to a minimum. In the three minutes that it takes for Jeff Beck to bang through Hi Ho Silver Lining, you can move from thrusting young executive to sad loser.
One trick is to move as little as possible when dancing on your own. Keep you feet still and just concentrate on the beat – that way you limit the prat-factor.
If your waist-size is 30+ DO NOT kid yourself that you can ever look cool on the dancefloor. Not possible.
Many years ago, a small group of us decided to play a joke on the Finance Director – well he WAS an ACCOUNTANT and therefore fair game! We persuaded a lively little eighteen year old to pretend that she fancied him and that she should try to kiss him. Even though he was the most revolting specimen of humanity imaginable, he believed that this girl was interested in him. His moose-like ego was in sixth-gear turbocharged overdrive. He was happening!
The girl was primed to go off at a certain time. A slow number was playing and the Finance Director’s hormones must have been colliding at warp-factor 10 and the front of his trousers was giving a passable impression of a ridge-tent. The eighteen-year-old was whispering something into his scaly ear. We watched as, droolingly, he whispered something back.
Suddenly the atmosphere was smashed by the girl shouting ” YOU WHAT? That’s DISGUSTING! What WOULD your wife say!” She pulled away from him, shouted “GET LOST! PERVERT!” and clomped off across the dance floor towards our table. How we laughed! Mind you, from the following day, my expenses always seemed to take that little bit longer to be paid. Coincidence I suppose.
Lesson: Beware of sweet young things declaring undying love. At best it’s temporary and at worst it’s a set-up.
Even socially, you have to remain one step ahead of the opposition.
There may be occasions when someone that you work closely with will wish to take advantage of a social occasion to declare their love for you. You must treat all of these approaches with great sensitivity. It will have taken a great deal of courage for an individual to expose their emotions to you in such a way – pissed or not. They will be feeling very vulnerable. Deal with the matter immediately. Do not make the mistake of saying – ” Let’s talk about it on Monday – when were both sober.” in the hope that it will be forgotten. It will not be forgotten and apart from having given hope to someone, you will find it very difficult to deal with the matter when you are both sober and in the office. If the answer is YES I AM INTERESTED then say so and likewise if the answer is NO. Incidentally, the correct answer is the latter.
There are other pitfalls which can occur at the Office Party but if you remember that all-important rule that there is no such thing as an off-the-record conversation or unremarked action, then you will always make the right decision.