ll archives: How to Handle These 5 Sticky Situations at an Office Party

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It’s just another Tuesday morning at work when you arrive at your desk only to see the dreaded red envelope, sealed with a snowflake. Before you even open it, you know what it holds: the invitation to the company’s holiday party. If you haven’t experienced one of these office rituals yet, brace yourself. It’s going to be a wild ride. If you have been through the ringer a few times, you know what to expect… *sigh*

Office parties hold some of the most awkward and embarrassing incidents ever to be witnessed on this planet. At this point, you’re just happy walls can’t talk.

But there is some light in this situation!

Here are five ways you can survive that office bash unscathed, and maybe — just maybe — enjoy it!

Who Put Baby in a Corner?

If you’ve been to an office party before, you probably wake up in cold sweats when you dream about the time Bill from Accounting latched onto you and talked until your ears bled.

Dealing with a chatterbox in the office is not fun, let alone at a party that is supposed to be semi-enjoyable.

If you’ve found yourself yet again listening to Bill drone on and on about his cat’s litter box usage, there are a few things you can do to make your escape:

  • Establish a buddy system with your closest coworker. If they spot you in distress, give them a subtle signal for a bailout.
  • Fake a coughing fit. Chances are, Bill from Accounting won’t appreciate you hacking all over him.
  • Politely excuse yourself to use the restroom.
  • Interrupt to ask if he would like another drink as you are walking to the bar. Don’t give him time to say yes or no, just make your escape! (Side note — don’t drink too much! See #4 for more details.)

Me, Me, Me!

The office narcissist — what a joy. How do you deal with someone who is always focused on themselves?

It’s a tricky road to navigate, especially if that narcissistic person is your boss or the party host.

Narcissists tend to love talking about themselves, but they love it even more when you talk about them to their face. They also are usually very charismatic but have a hard time maintaining good rapport with people because they’re so self-centered.

When you’re at an office party and find everyone being sucked in by Narcissistic Nicole from Marketing, try these tactics:

  • Don’t feed into her desires, such as complimenting her.
  • Strike up conversation with another coworker or two. While she won’t like the fact you’re ignoring her, at least you won’t have to listen to her spout off about her awards.
  • If you can’t hold your tongue, the best thing you can do is interrupt politely to highlight another coworker’s achievements if she continues to hog the spotlight.
  • It might be a surprise if the narcissist suddenly takes an interest in you by asking personal questions and commending you. Don’t let flattery win you over. Narcissists use compliments and gifts to “win” over someone to think they care. In reality, they have an angle, which probably involves you doing something for them.

Four-Drink Amy

If you don’t take anything else from this article, take this tidbit of knowledge: You’re attending an office party, not a pub crawl.

And while some people may recognize that fact, others will not. Alcohol diminishes your ability to think clearly, meaning you could word-vomit (or actually vomit) after having one too many glasses of wine.

As a general rule, keep your drink limit to one or two while at the party. Yes, seriously. If you want to go out with some of your closer coworkers after the party, that’s fine, but while your boss and supervisors are present, you should keep a low profile.

Maybe you’re doing just fine with that drink limit, but your good friend Amy has had a wee bit too much (or a lot too much). If you’re a close coworker and friend, you should help her out, just as you’d like to be helped out in that situation. Make sure she gets home okay.

When you’re ready to leave the party, if there is any doubt about how intoxicated you think you are, call a cab. It’s better to have everyone get home safely than to end up ruining your career, your life or someone else’s.

Edward Creeper Hands

Sexual assault and harassment are no joke. Just because you are at an office party doesn’t mean you have free range to say anything that’s on your mind or to be the target of someone else’s uncalled-for words or grabby hands.

If you think a coworker or even your boss is being a bit too forward with you, here are some things you can do:

  • Tell them their sexual jokes/groping/touching isn’t funny and that you find their words or actions offensive.
  • Leave the party if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
  • Follow your company’s rules to report the incident(s).
  • Write everything out and document it well.
  • Continue reporting any incidents that occur afterward.

When in doubt, you can always consult an expert to investigate the problem if things have gone past your comfort level.

The Mood Killer

Contrary to popular belief, office parties aren’t supposed to be torture. With the right atmosphere and people, the office get-together should be fun and enjoyable!

However, it’s a known fact you can’t really pick who you work with, so you can’t really pick who you’ll party with either during those off-hour interactions.

The biggest mistake at an office party is to be a mood killer. If you’re going to be miserable the entire night, come up with a good excuse and skip out on it.

While you may not love all of your coworkers, you should at least try to have some fun. Your employer is probably spending some good money on throwing this shindig, so the least you can do is have that cocktail and mingle a little.