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9 Tips for surviving your office party

End-of-year parties are something we all look forward too. There’s nothing better than sipping on bubbles and chilling out with your colleagues at a stunning venue, all at your company’s expense of course!

The BIG but: Sometimes these year-end festivities can end in career disaster. You’ve heard the stories circulating through the office before: improper approaches to the opposite sex, excessive drinking, unguarded comments to the boss. None of us want those stories to be about us.

But did you know that those annual office parties have the potential to enhance your career? It takes some serious planning, but if you’re smart and career-focuses, it’s possible for you to enjoy the event and meet important goals.

How, you ask? You simply approach the office part as you would any other corporate activity. You know how you always prepare for big client presentations? Apply that kind of preparation for the annual party, and you’ll turn it into a career opportunity (as well as a fun night!).

Auguste Coetzer, Director at TALENT AFRICA, has given us nine tips for purposeful partying. 

1 Dress to impress


Find out the dress code and dress appropriately. Informal or party wear may be allowed, but don’t go overboard. Show that you have good taste.

2 Be prepared


FYI, you can’t always talk about the weather. Have some conversational topics ready so that you don’t say something bad in an attempt to avoid an ‘awkward silence’. Oh, and if you’re taking a partner, brief them on the event and suggest some DO’s and DON’Ts.  

3 Manage your time


Make time for the function, don’t “squeeze it in” or treat it as a waste of time. Arrive promptly. Being “fashionably late” shows disrespect for others and positions you as a snob or killjoy.

4 Moderation in everything

Join in and loosen up, but don’t over-indulge. It may be an open bar, and the CEO may have encouraged you to make full use of it, but exercise a little restraint. Often, a discreet show of personal control will be quietly observed by the boss.

5 Mingle


Don’t just chat to immediate colleagues or schmooze the boss. Also chat to junior personnel and those from other departments. Show a genuine interest in people. Ask (sometimes prepared) questions that indicate you have an interest in everything happening in the organisation, but also have an interest in family matters and issues outside work.

6 Be positive


Don’t be a scandal-monger, don’t gossip, never whine and don’t talk behind someone’s back. Find something nice to say – about people, the company and the past year. You never know who’s listening. 

7 Be friendly and courteous

Make sure others are not excluded. Practise your listening skills. Show interest in others and never monopolise the conversation. Don’t always talk shop. Show you have other facets to your character and other interests.

8 Network, but discreetly


A corporate event allows you to strengthen or enlarge your personal network. Chat to a broad range of guests and colleagues, even make time for those you may not like. It’s the season of goodwill, after all. Sometimes fences can be mended and misunderstandings cleared up.

9 Have fun

Enjoy yourself! But just don’t go overboard. Show that you’re human, but don’t show your wild side!

Wanting more tips and tricks to help you climb the corporate ladder? Check out our career section.

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