Parties can be a lot of fun, even work parties, but they can also be uncomfortable, socially awkward, and still feel like work – especially if your boss can use your behavior to judge your ability to maintain professionalism in a social setting. When office parties get out of hand, it can lead to some professionally devastating situations and even lawsuits. So how can you make sure that you’re not ruining your professional image or risking your job when attending a work social event?
- Drinking too much. Most workplace events come with complimentary drinks. Unfortunately, whether you are trying to be casual or you are drinking to make the rigid event more bearable, you need to make sure that you are not overdoing it. Imbibing too much alcohol can lead to embarrassing moments that can mortify you once you’re sober, ruin your chances of promotion, or even get you fired. If you make a fool out of yourself, be prepared to be haunted for it for a very long time and see embarrassing pictures or videos of yourself all over social media.
- Getting in fights with co-workers.If you harbor some anger or ill feelings toward a colleague or manager, there’s always the chance that those feelings will finally bubble up when you have to deal with him or her in your time off. You might also feel more relaxed at a party, so you might be less cautious and give in to temptation to say—or do—something you might regret later. That goes double if you are drinking. See #1. Verbally attacking your co-worker, or punching him or her will not be a good career move and may even land you in jail.
- Flirting or making inappropriate overtures to co-workers. Sometimes work parties get too casual and certain people may cross the line, especially propelled by the “liquid courage” – courtesy of free-flowing alcohol. Saying sexually inappropriate things to a colleague, or worse yet, inappropriately touching someone might land you in serious trouble later on. Unwelcome sexual advances might lead to sexual harassment complaint and/or investigation.
- Badmouthing the boss.When socializing with your co-workers, the truth about how you feel about your manager or other colleagues may come out. Even if you don’t like someone else in the office, it’s best to keep those feelings to yourself at workplace social gatherings—because they could come back to bite you later on. You might be thinking that you are among the friends, your work buddies, but at a work party you are among co-workers first and foremost, and many friendships and loyalties were broken up over a promotion or raise, so keep any badmouthing to yourself.
- 5. Gossiping. Liquor and fondness for over sharing typically go hand in hand. Though gossiping at work may be a given, it’s no excuse to run your mouth about whatever — to whomever. Don’t be the office Chatty Cathy! Remember that partaking in office gossip can be risky, and discretion must be used to avoid embarrassment, hurt feelings or even termination. Never disclose confidential information you gained access to through work. Sharing it with others might land you involved in a breach of policy or protocol. Also, erect appropriate boundaries providing co-workers and supervisors with only limited access to your own personal information. This prevents your own private life from being shared company wide.
So don’t overdo the liquor and remember that even though you may be at a party, it’s still a work party so essentially you’re at work. If you are attending a work-sponsored event, expect all workplace policies to be still enforceable.