Should I Attend the Holiday Office Party?

Dec 13th, 2010 | By | Category: abundance, Career advice, career choice, competitive challenges, competitive environment, competitive peers, confidence, focus, mentor, negativity, office problems, personality

If the question “Should I attend the holiday office party?” even rises to a    conscious level you may have more issues than just the office party.

Depending on your office culture, office parties may vary from very wild to    extremely dull. Most fall somewhere in the middle. Very few office parties leave  office politics at the door, and just have a good time. For most it is business as  usual. Skipping an office party can be very similar career wise to skipping an  important meeting.

In my experience, holiday office parties follow the same script and pecking order as the general office decorum. If it is a formal dinner, the managers are usually seated in order of rank, and then employees either by seniority or department. Even the informal parties the conversation groups usually form along the same lines. Although many think that holiday parties are a good time to make friends with upper management, it is usually difficult to join their conversations. In some cases, it almost seems like their management assistants act as guards to intercept employees before they can engage in management conversations.

Employees seem to form similar conversation circles based loosely on the cliques at the office. Those who eat lunch together usually party together. These groups are a little easier to break into, but the conversation usually stops as soon as you do. Just like in the office.

There are also the group who notes who attends and who is missing. Like at the office those who are missing are the topic of conversation. That is one reason why it is good to attend. At one holiday party I happened to be standing near one of my coworkers. In the spirit of the season, I tried to start a conversation with her. I asked if she was having a good time. Her reply was that she hated office parties, and the only reason she attended is so people won’t talk about her. She was right, for across the room sat the office monitor squad noting who was present, who was talking with whom. On Monday, when I went to the office, my secretary asked how I enjoyed my conversation with Ms X, and rolled her eyes.

One of my favorite holiday office party stories is when I was a manager, and the managers put in the money for the party so the employees could attend at no charge. In order to make the reservations we needed a head count on who would attend. When I asked one employee if she was going to attend. She replied that she did not want to go to the party, but I should give her cash in the amount of her ticket. I said I couldn’t do that. She said, then I guess I’ll go to the party. Not everyone wants to go office parties, and some; just go because they feel it is part of their compensation package. Having a good time is not on their agenda.

My reason for relating these stories is not to be negative about holiday office parties. In fact I support office parties and think there should be more of them. I do think it is important for everyone who can to attend, if for no other reason to declare their place as part of the group. Even if you have negative feelings toward the office or some of your coworkers, you are not hurting them by not attending. In fact you are focusing more negative attention on yourself. So in my opinion, everyone should attend their holiday office party. Just don’t drink too much and tell everyone how you really feel. (That may be a good topic for a post: How to do damage control after drinking too much at the office holiday party.) Good luck The PracticaL Mentor

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