Christmas party time! Silly season time! Whatever you wanna call it time! HR Hot Tip #56 in my book 101 HR Hot Tips: Handy Secrets for Success in the Workplace discusses appropriate behaviour including keeping your clothes on at the Christmas party. And now that the silly season is upon us, now is the time to augment this HR Hot Tip for your benefit.
These are the personality types that come out at Christmas parties. Who will you be, or who will you see, this year?
Gals, this is the guy who is completely unable to look you in the eye, but rather, on your chest. Guys, this is the gal who also is unable to maintain eye contact when having conversations, but lets them wander south, usually in a conspicuous fashion. Once booze is involved, all surreptitiousness can go out the window and your own actions may result in you coming across as a sleazy guy or gal. One of my former bosses was a victim of sexual harassment from his subordinate; she publicly hit on him at the party and her actions put both of them in a very awkward position when they returned to work. I was a first hand witness to a drunk male manager introducing a colleague as “This is the voluptuous [insert name here]”. Not appropriate. Sexual harassment only needs to happen once for it to constitute sexual harassment, and does not need to be repeated. One mistake could land you disciplinary action or termination. Think before you sleaze.
2. The Slutty One
Your employer probably has a dress code for general business. Technically this should apply to or account for work functions as well, but let’s face it, a lot of us use the Christmas party as an opportunity to get out of the usual office attire and dress to the nines. That’s great, you’ve worked hard all year and deserve to let loose but, gals, make sure your cleavage isn’t too revealing, the split in your dress isn’t so high it exposes your undies, your shorts are so short that you can see your butt cheeks, or that see-through shirt is supported with a slip and isn’t showing your bra. You’re still at work at the Christmas party so make sure you dress to suit the occasion.
3. The Shitfaced One
This could happen to anybody. HR Hot Tip #78 encourages a drink now and then but if we head towards intoxication, however, we may gain a certain level of confidence that we usually do not have when we are in control of our senses. Be mindful that your conduct is still on display, even though this really is a time to relax and celebrate the year’s hard work. Don’t lose your self-awareness or your faculties and if you feel it coming on, go home. You don’t want to be stumbling around the place and then have to pretend everything is okay when you return to work.
4. The Sober One
You know what, I once had a boss who was a total teetotal. I mean, it’s okay to live a teetotal life if that’s your lifestyle choice but at least let yourself have one drink (unless you’re pregnant) come Christmas so you’re not perceived as boring. This person also takes in everything around them; a vault of knowledge for when the grapevine returns to work next year, especially if they have loose lips. I guess the benefit of The Sober One is that they are usually in senior leadership (and need to set a good example) and tend to go home early, so y’all can play up and really party hard once the big wigs go home (if they go home).
5. The Sensitive One
This is the person whose emotions can’t be controlled once a gallon or perhaps just a sniff of alcohol enters their system. You know those people who seem to have it all together during the week, but once they’ve had a few vinos the woes of their life must come out in the form of oceanic tears? I’ve had to counsel boys who are in tears because the girl of their dreams doesn’t like them; I’ve had to comfort girls who are unhappy with being single. I’m not saying their woes aren’t warranted – I’m just saying there’s a time and a place to be upset and that place is not the Christmas party. Science has proven that emotions are heightened with the addition of alcohol, so if you’re a sensitive person sober, try and keep your tears under control, or, perhaps don’t get so drunk at the work party that you cry. Go home and hide.
6. The Shouter
Shots all round! Jaegerbombs, Burt Reynolds, B52s, cocksucking cowboys, whatever. This is the person who decides to shout everybody shots towards the end of the night! Or earlier if the situation dictates. Their desire to be generous has to happen right now! The night won’t be the same unless this person shouts everyone at the party or indeed everyone in the venue a shot. They do this to flash their cash as a bit of an egocentric action rather than the benefit of your alcoholism, but really, they just want everyone to have a good time. Say no if you can’t handle a shot though. You don’t want to bring it up again involuntarily then and there. I’ve seen that happen before. No undo button here!
7. The Sharer
Got a mouth on ya? Make sure you keep it closed when you have a few drinks under your belt. Now is not the time to tell your boss what you really think of them, or to spread gossip or top secret stuff to even one colleague. You’re still bound by your confidentiality agreement at the work function, and may face disciplinary action or termination as a result of any breach or perceived breach. As tempting as it might be to engage in gossip or share some company information that’s privileged, zip it. Remember: loose lips sink ships.
8. The Spewer
Oh deary, deary me. This is the one who ends up in the dunny, the gutter (or worse, the dance floor) before the night’s out. The one who can’t handle their booze. And I don’t mean no schoolie teenager. Don’t make a fool of yourself in front of your leaders or your workmates. This is stuff they never forget. You may risk damaging your credibility, and think about the poor sucker that has to hold your hair back while you vom. You ruin their night too!
9. The Shaggers
No need for elaboration here really. Just don’t leave the venue with someone you shouldn’t.
10. The Singers
Warm up the pipes! Get ready y’all, y’all gonna be treated to an absolutely fabulous rendition of New York New York or whatever the hit of the moment might be! Don’t forget when you’re in a public place, not everyone wants to hear your passion for American Pie or The Gambler. Take it to a karaoke bar where you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Unless of course you’re singing Piano Man. That’s always a good one to get everybody going, regardless of whether they’re part of your party, or not.
11. The Psycho One
Some of us have an alter ego. These ones are generally well behaved most of the time, but once Christmas season is upon us, out comes the evil twin. This is the jealous gal that can’t stand her man being seen with another gal, even if they are just friends or colleagues. This is the guy who feels the need to pick a fight with said gal’s boyfriend. Violence is amplified when alcohol is involved; it can make the world a dangerous place. How many people die from being king hit on the streets as a result of alcohol induced aggression? Lots. If you have the devil inside you and you’re prone to having a hot head and unleashing without warning, manage it at your Christmas party and lay off the booze.
And to bring it back to HR Hot Tip #56: Keep your clothes on at the Christmas party. Look, you might feel it is necessary that everybody all around you, whether in your party or another, must see your undergarments or unclothed torso. But really, they don’t. “Hey, CFO, speaking of bottoms, instead of showing us your bottom, why won’t you show us some of your wild personality throughout the course of the year when we’re discussing the bottom line…..”
13. The Self-Righteous One
This is the one who is generally cocky and arrogant anyway, and it comes out more so when alcohol is involved. Arrogance isn’t attractive, and frankly, you can (and should) be confident without being arrogant. These types tend to exhibit these behaviours when sober, and naturally they are heightened when drunk. They’re painful to be around, and no-one agrees with their unfounded self-belief that he or she is totally correct or morally superior. Their personality might not even change too much from sober to drunk, but what is tolerable during business hours becomes unbearable at the social gathering.
14. The Strategic One
Now, this happened to me once and it was a very clever move. Once upon a time, one of my fellow managers, whom I had a great relationship with I might add, was The Sober One on this occasion and asked me for feedback when I was in a vulnerable position (ie The Shitfaced One). The truth came out. And I don’t regret anything I said, because it would have said it anyway, but I would have preferred a different environment where I had a little more control over the delivery. I texted her the following day something to the effect of “Nice work mate, great strategy, capitalising on my vulnerability. An excellent idea.” So my advice is this: if you’re looking for information on yourself only, being The Strategic One at the party is a good time to explore this potential opportunity.
15. The Stoner
Don’t take drugs at your Christmas party. Just don’t. You’re asking to be fired. Everybody knows you’re on something. Avoid drugs altogether or at the very least, save them for when you get home.
Remember: Your company probably has a drugs and alcohol policy and any contravention of this may result in dire consequences up to and including termination of your employment. Whilst it’s a fun time, you are still expected to adhere to your company policies as part of your employment and your employer will expect certain standards of conduct from you. That said, your employer should communicate their expectations around alcohol consumption at such events, especially when they are providing the alcohol, as well as the potential consequences of any inappropriate conduct.
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