1. Money
Susan M. Heathfield

Worst Office Party Gaffes

By December 14, 2013

Follow me on:

Are you heading out to an office holiday party this week or next? If so, this note is for you.

This note is especially targeted to readers who may head out this weekend or this next week to the potentially fun and exciting office holiday party. Potentially, I say, because the stories readers share about the behavior at their office parties are enough to make your hair stand on end.

The office party during the holidays, or any other time of the year, is a key professional opportunity to mingle casually with coworkers, impress bosses, and get to know people you don't see every day.

Unfortunately, the holiday office party is also a prime opportunity to ruin your professional reputation, alienate coworkers, and fail to capitalize on networking opportunities.

I've shared the most egregious office party blunders in the Top Seven Office Party Gaffes. These are the seven most common office party blunders. Heed them. Some are missed opportunities, but some may cost you your career.

Missed Opportunities at the Office Party

I'd like to add a few of the missed opportunity blunders here. Many employees avoid the CEO and the VPs, and even their own boss, at the office party. This is a huge missed opportunity to bring yourself and your significant other to their attention.

They are at the office party to talk with employees and get to know you as a person in their organization. Give them the opportunity. Perhaps that VP will remember your charm when the next career opportunity is available. Don't monopolize the time or the attention of the bosses, but do interact with them the way you would with your other coworkers.

Another missed opportunity occurs when you hang with your friends. You see and interact with them every day. The office party allows you to meet new coworkers and people from departments across the company. Do make an effort to talk with the people you don't know. I know, it takes a stretch of courage if you're more introverted by nature as I am, but it's worth your time.

Who knows when you may work with these people in the future or what career opportunities may exist in their organizations for you. And, you may actually meet someone you want to get to know better. It's easier to start a friendship with commonalities such as the same employer. (The introvert link is to the Wizard of Ads' insightful commentary about introverts and extroverts.)

One of the most important secrets I've learned in life is that my focus needs to be, not on how a situation impacts me, but on the positive impact I can bring to others.

Reader Responses: Do you have an office party story to tell? Please share your experiences with office party blunders.

Image Copyright Nina Kaiser

More About the Holiday Season

December 19, 2008 at 11:41 am
(1) Lourdes says:

I think is important for employees to know what are the party “rules” in advance, in some companies some heavy drinking is perfectly fine and even expected (some shipping company comes to my mind…)When I was working in one of the biggest mining companies worldwide the senior manager in the office used to gather employees every Friday to talk about safety and security, as the year end party was close he advice us in a very polite way: “next week we are going to handle our annual party, please remember to be cautious with alcohol we don´t want you to be hurt in a car accident after the party or lose your job…”

September 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm
(2) Brendon says:

I’ve got examine some great stuff here. Worth book-marking for returning to. I wonder the amount of effort you placed to make this type of impressive informative site.

December 20, 2008 at 7:25 am
(3) Premium Domains says:

Nice post. The work christmas party was a very subdued event this year. There were a few incidents at the event last year that prompted senior management to remind everyone that this is sitll a work event and although everyone should have fun, they must also conduct themselves professionally.
Sadly people took this to heart and the party was very forgettable.

January 1, 2011 at 9:18 pm
(4) Aggravated says:

Alcohol should be prohibited at office parties. It’s difficult for employees when the boss gets drunk and puts the moves on a staffer. That’s what happened this past Xmas to my husband. I was present when his female boss drank 2 glasses of wine at dinner (we believe she was tipsy when she arrived for the celebratory meal), then proceeded to rub his arm, shoulder and back as if I (his wife) were not present. She hugged and kissed him after she passed around the employee gifts cards, then thanked me for allowing him to be her “daytime husband”. She humiliated him in front of his staff (10 of whom where at the table), and he had a lot of ‘splainin’ to do with me. She is 6 years my senior and overweight, I don’t consider her a threat to my marriage. But she changed the pallor of everyone in that department’s relationship with her. She behaved very unprofessionally, and should know better. She hasn’t done that kind of thing to my hubby during business hours, thankfully, but all it took was some booze and she became a buffoon.

September 26, 2011 at 4:36 pm
(5) cs says:

What would you have done if she had been a real nice looking and young woman? It may happen in the future. I is good to know what to do in advance.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.