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Staying Out of Trouble During Holiday Party Season

Its mid November and for many people the holiday season will bring some "partying" ... there will be company events, client events and personal events with family and friends. It is important to understand the difference between these types of events if you want to avoid some common issues.

You could think of these parties on a scale, where the most informal parties are the personal ones with friends and family, the most formal events are those with clients and somewhere in the middle are those parties at work.

Here are some guidelines:

1. Family and friends parties ... you all know each other very well. If you drink a little too much you are likely to be forgiven, although you may pay a price :-) Your friends and relatives are fairly forgiving, and what you wear and how you act are not really going to affect your relationship with them.

2. Work parties. You have to bear in mind that these are "work" events, no matter how informal the culture in your company. You should "ease" into them, taking your cue from those around you particularly management. It is fine to be a little more "laid back" than at the office, to be a little less formal with the boss and in most cases its OK to have a drink or two. You also should know that poor or boorish behaviour can reflect badly on you. I have seen people's careers changed because they "cut loose" at a company event. You should relax, you should enjoy yourself, you should be very social ... just don't go nuts!

3. Client parties. These are a great chance to connect with clients at a more personal level, to enjoy a more social atmosphere and to relax. Whether to drink or not should be dictated by your client, and even if your client chooses to drink to excess you should not. Alcohol can cause us to talk too much and it becomes even easier than normal to stick our foot in our mouth. You should look forward to these opportunities, relax and talk about issues other than work. You can get to know your clients better, and when they are relaxed they may well choose to give you good feedback ... which you need to be sober to catch!

The word party does not mean the same thing in all contexts and it is wise to be a little careful with your approach to "parties" ... particularly when clients are involved! Save the crazy stuff for when you are with friends and family, and don't ever post it on Facebook!