What to Say at the Office Party
Office holiday parties are a great way to meet people in your company, mingle and make the kind of small talk that can help advance your career. That is, unless you handle it badly. Then it could derail it.
So what can you say that will make you stand out in a good way? Martin M. Antony, a professor of psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario and the author of "10 Simple Solutions to Shyness," says you should reach out to someone by smiling, making eye contact and just being approachable. Show that you are open to conversation.
And when the talking begins, this is what you say:
1. Give compliments.
Offer someone else a compliment, but make sure you are honest and don't overdo it. If you receive one in return and feel uncomfortable, just say "Thank you." Don't discount the praise by telling the person all the reasons why you don't deserve it.
2. Join an ongoing conversation.
At a party, it is perfectly appropriate to join an ongoing conversation. People often walk about, moving in and out of different conversations. See if you can join in with a group of people who are discussing something that interests you.
3. Be prepared.
Have some topics of conversation prepared, but make sure to actually listen to the other person rather than rehearsing what you'll say next.
4. Ask questions.
Be curious and intrigued about other people and their lives and interests.
5. Be positive.
People respond better to positive statements than negative.
6. Use active listening skills.
Reflect back that you are understanding what the other person is saying. Paraphrase what they say, ask for clarification and provide feedback.
7. Try to talk about things other than work.
Take the opportunity to get to know people on a personal level.
8. Include your date in conversations by finding common interests.
This is especially important if your date is shy or doesn't know anyone else but you.
9. Stick to neutral topics.
Just like your grandmother advised, don't talk about religion, politics or sex.
Do THIS to get noticed:
- Shake hands with your boss and other senior managers and wish them a happy holiday season. Make sure that your boss sees you at the holiday party and also remembers speaking with you. When it comes time for promotions, your boss is likely to pick a pleasant individual who seems happy to be at the company.
Office parties are opportunities to cultivate new relationships, but you need to have more than one conversation. Use the party as a starting point and follow up with colleagues after the party with additional social events.
Before you leave, say goodnight and thank you to three people: the most senior person in attendance, the party organizer and your boss.
- Not attending the office party is bad form. You want to look like a team player. Your absence will be noted and could come back to haunt you at review time. Consider it an official work function.
Research the dress code before you go. Ask the organizer or someone who went to last year's party if the dress is formal, business or casual. When in doubt, err on the conservative/formal side. Avoid showing too much skin.
Alcohol and office parties can be a bad mix. Pace yourself. Eat food and alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones in order to maintain control.