The holidays are here and celebrations are taking place. We have all been to parties when one or more people become ‘out of control’. These people make conversation pieces for other party goers but run the risk of tainting their reputation around the office or neighborhood.
To not become the butt of jokes and snickers for the next 12 months, here are some tips from The Etiquette School of New York on how to behave at holiday parties.
How to Make an Entrance:
- Take your time. Never rush into a room; you must never look like you are in a hurry. Enter the room, move to the right, and pause. This pause gives you the opportunity to spot key persons, and allows others to see you before you walk in the room.
- Your posture and how you carry yourself. Good posture instantly creates an impression of confidence and sets the stage for others to accept you as a winner.
- A winning smile. A warm, confident smile will put you and others around you at ease.
- Be positive. Your attitude shows through in everything you do. Project a positive attitude.
- Your eye contact. Good eye contact with those you meet is very important. Maintain eye contact throughout the handshake.
- Your handshake. Greet and shake hands with those nearest you and others in the room.
10 Dos and Do Nots to Keep in Mind:
- Dress appropriately. For social business functions with your business associates, it is always better to play it safe and wear a conservative outfit that is not too revealing. How you look—your appearance– can either make a great impression, or a leave lasting negative impression!
- Eat a small amount of food for energy before the event. Rushing in and heading for the bar or the food is counterproductive to your agenda.
- Make an entrance. When you walk in, take a few seconds to look around before starting to circulate. It’s important to make an effective entrance because everyone watches the entrance.
- Wear a name badge if everyone else is wearing one. And remember, it goes on your right side.
- Keep your conversation positive and light when making small talk. If you are at a social business event, you don’t want to gravitate to a small group of colleagues and talk shop, nor do you want to be entirely social treating colleagues as potential friends. And, this is not the time to complain to your boss about your co-workers. The best topics to talk about are to ask what the other person thinks about local changes or events, about national trends, about current culture, books, and movies, or something you read in the daily newspaper. Steer clear of controversy, however.
- Carry your beverage in your left hand. This leaves your right hand free for handshakes and ensures that your hand isn’t damp and cold. Even if you are left-handed, tradition dictates we shake with the right hand.
- Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation. It’s at these social events that managers tend to see our true colors and get to know us on a personal basis. Drinking too much can be counterproductive to your professional ambitions. Besides, you don’t want to be the girl or guy that everyone is talking about the next day.
- Eat or talk. Doing both at the same time is not suave.
- Be mindful of the person or persons who accompanied you to the event. If they’re from your private life, they won’t be familiar with the business half of the room, and vice versa. Introduce them to people with whom they might have something in common.
- Be discreet. If you are at a social business function, don’t discuss matters that belong at work. And, where at a purely social event, you might “let your hair down,” this is not the place for it. People from the office will notice any behavior that is too relaxed.
- Do not skip the corporate holiday party, or arrive when it is almost over. You may think your attendance is optional, but your absence will be noticed. The social business function is a great time to show off your polished social skills and mingle with upper management. Arriving at the end of the party shows your lack of respect for the event and will be noticed. It is also more difficult to break into groups that have already formed when you arrive late.
- Do not bring your time-is-money business mind-set with you even though the event is both business and social. You could end up with a series of five-second conversations: “Hey,”or “How’s it going?” To avoid this pace, don’t give or ask for one-word answers. Elaborate. Tell an anecdote. Ask a question that needs more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
- Do not use business jargon at a social business event unless you are talking shop with those who are enjoying it as much as you are. Otherwise, leave the buzz words at home.
- Do not bring a guest with you to the event unless the invitation specifically indicated that you could bring a guest. If in doubt, ask the host if you may bring a guest.
- Do not let your ego take over, particularly if you are a business executive, accustomed to commanding people’s attention and experiencing their deference. You might carry this attitude over into the social arena, where it is less appreciated.
- Do not toast yourself. If you are honored at the event with a toast, accept it gracefully. Don’t drink to yourself or clap when others are applauding you.
- Do not talk solely with people you know well. Make a point of meeting three new people. Try to find three things in common with each of them. This three-three strategy is not only good practice for social skills, but it is an important stimulus to the goals of the event and might bring you unexpected personal and professional dividends.
- Do not take pictures of your colleagues without asking for permission to do so; and do not post them on Facebook without their consent. Be respectful of the privacy of your colleagues.
- Do not answer your cell phone or text at the party unless it is an emergency. If you must take a call, leave the room and go to a private place to talk.
- Do not forget to thank the host before leaving the party, or to write a thank-you note the day after the party; and follow-up with any contacts you have met at an event and promised to send additional information regarding your services or the company you represent.