How To Survive the Office Christmas Party

“Family that plays together stays together” ~original author unknown

Ah, the annual office Christmas party – the party we all grumble about if we don’t get, but we all fear and dread when we do.

  • Who’s coming?
  • What do I wear?
  • Who do I need to talk to?
  • Who should I avoid?
  • Will there be alcohol?
  • Should I have any alcohol?
  • Will there be dancing?
  • Should I dance? (remember Elaine from Seinfeld?)

The fact is, the annual Christmas (or “holiday” for the politically careful) party is supposed to be a time to breathe, relax, celebrate accomplishments and appreciate each other. It is a gift from the keeper of the company purse to say “Thank you!”

Maybe it’s a sign of the times. We don’t party enough. Partying is a forgotten skill. It’s either a drunken, rumour-starting, career-ending disaster or a stuffy, political poser-fest you can’t wait to exit. Why can’t we just relax and enjoy each others’ company without getting all weird?

We are human.

In a family, there is unconditional love. You may not LIKE your family, but generally you know you’ll be connected to the bitter end. Your family knows where you came from and will always have a deeper connection because of the good and the bad times, wins and losses, deepest embarrassment and greatest glory you have witnessed and shared together.

Your work family is a little different.

Joe was nice to you when you started in the company, but soon decided you were competition. Joe steps on you to build himself up and keep you down. When one of you leaves the company you will never have to speak to Joe again, and that day could not come too soon.

Suzy saw you do something wrong and soon the entire company knew … including your boss… which has been career limiting. You’re a nice person, but you still have dreams of Suzy’s lunch crawling with maggots or her hair catching fire. Peace and good will toward men? … Peace and good will toward everyone but Suzy.

The truth is, some people don’t care about you. You are not important to them. You share workspace and are either useful or in their way. One of the biggest human needs we have is to be cared for. At our most basic instinctive level, someone who doesn’t care is a threat!

What if …

  • the office party is a way to connect with people on a non-work level and grow a little know-like-trust factor between you?
  • you CAN be yourself if you authentically connect and care about the conversations you have and the people you speak with?
  • you find common ground with people you never considered?

Every office party is a chance to make your workplace a better place to work. It starts with this mindset:

“It’s never about you.” ~ authentic Carol Carterism #15

  • Someone has treated you badly in the past? It’s never about you.
  • Someone refuses to talk to you at the party? It’s never about you.
  • Someone decides to talk to you and truly connects? … again, it’s never about you.

People act on what is in their own hearts. You can’t control their actions, but you can control yours. Make sure you care about others. Don’t wait for them to care about you first. Authentically, transparently connect. If you become “others focused” and quit worrying so much about you, you’ll find that office parties are great events to look forward to.

The truth is, leaders know how to connect with people and empower them to be their best selves. If you are doing this with others, it will be noticed and admired. If others are NOT doing this to you, it reflects more on them than you.

How do you survive the office Christmas Party?

  • Don’t worry so much! Relax, laugh, have fun and be authentic! DO be your BEST authentic self.
  • Get over yourself. It’s never about you.
  • Focus on others and, no matter who they are or what their position is, truly care and connect.

Don’t be a stuffy poser, don’t mask your nervousness with liquid courage and … DO get someone you trust to be honest with you about your dance moves before you show them off.

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About Carol Carter

Carol is a team transformer. She cuts through the craziness and chaos of TODAY's workplace and helps leaders love their jobs again. Her live workshops and her online course "Transform Your Leadership" help people get "on track" and create REAL change that lasts, both professionally AND personally.
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