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The holiday office post #MeToo

In light of the #METOO campaign C-Suite executives are cancelling their Holiday Office Party until Codes of conduct have been revisited. Some employers are introducing policies that will define what is acceptable and not, between colleagues. Others, like one of my clients, are hosting civility training activities just before the traditional celebration. And men, of every organizational level, are questioning their behaviors.

To allow you to shine at this year’s holiday office party, here are the answers to the season’s most popular questions.

1. DO I HAVE TO GO?

Yes. If you choose not to attend you could shine by your absence. Not attending could be perceived as a disengagement from the team.

The key word in “Holiday Office Party” is…? Office. Your employer invested money and time to make sure that you and your team are bonding « offline » and not screen-to-screen.

2. WHAT SHOULD I TALK ABOUT?

Spread cheer. Do your homework. Review the past year in search of your colleagues’ and even your superiors’ successes, awards and accomplishments. Seek and congratulate them.

View the party as an intra-networking event. It is the perfect occasion to get to know your colleagues and to introduce yourself. Don’t stick to your usual team members.

“What are your plans for this holiday season?” is a safe conversation starter for all, no matter where they are in the pecking order. Ask about their favorite traditions and hobbies and see their eyes light up.

It’s not the time to present your candidacy for that coveted promotion. It is neither the time to settle differences nor to propose a grand project to Big Boss.

What do I do if a colleague share TMI?

Don’t pretend that you did not hear anything. Make eye contact “I am not comfortable with that comment”. Leave the conversation. If the person seeks you and insists “If you continue, I will report you.” This statement applies to all inappropriate behaviours and comments. I know, it is hard to say but it is necessary. In such a case, make sure to document the details of the incident.

3. WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?

As with the Casual Friday dress code avoid items from the four Bs: Beach, Bar, Boudoir and Barbell (gym) wear. Pssst, Victoria’s Secrets should remain a secret…

Follow the invitation’s dress code. If one is not stated, the location, time of day and menu are your clues.

Still unsure? As my maternal grandmother used to say, “When in doubt, find out”.

Ask the event coordinator or your human resources department. You can never be wrong by asking.

Resist to the temptation of adding a “just for laughs” accessory. The vision of you wearing a red nose and antlers could be hard for your boss to forget, come performance appraisal time.

4. IS IT OK TO DANCE?

Of course. Participate in all activities with a « G », for all, rating. Your children and grandparents should be able to watch without uneasiness.

Respect yourself, your comfort zone and those of your colleagues.

“No” means “No”, no matter how soft and sweet it is stated. Respect it. Don’t insist.

What do I do if a colleague gets too close for comfort and tugs at me to take me to the dance floor?

« No, thank you. I do not want to dance. If the person insists, “You are making me uncomfortable. I prefer to stay here and to chat.”

5. TO DRINK OR NOT TO DRINK?

You have certainly heard about an employee sharing TMI during a work function. Everyone has their limit. Respect yours and avoid being the day after’s water cooler talk.

What do I do if a colleague has had too much to drink?

If he is close to you, make sure that he gets home safely. If not or if you are not comfortable, share the situation with the organizer or the service personnel. They are used to these interventions.

Make sure to eat before drinking and to drink lots of water throughout the festivities.

6. MAY I TAKE PICTURES?

Only if you have obtained permission and informed the subjects of where you will be posting.

If you are a manager, know that techno-free parties are trending. There is no clicking, tweeting or tagging. Other teams take one group pic and post at the onset of the party to then make memories face-to-face not face to roots (top of head looking at a phone screen) 😉

7. HOW LONG SHOULD I STAY?

Arrive on time and don’t be the last to leave.

Lastly, as you know gratitude has exponential powers. Thank the organizers and superior. Shake their hand on your way out or an email the next day.

You have a sticky situation at work? Write to Julie and she will write back.

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The holiday office post #MeToo