Written by Tiffany Adams, CELI President. Click here to view nationally published article.
Charlie Brown and Linus are trudging through the snow on a frigid, blustery day. They encounter Snoopy, shivering and miserable beside his very empty dog dish. Offering encouragement, they say to their hungry, furry friend, “Be of good cheer, Snoopy.”
This classic Peanuts cartoon serves as a timely reminder that we need to ‘be of good cheer’ at holiday work parties. ‘Tis the season to celebrate with colleagues, but party-goers are often remiss in exercising their responsibility to be gracious guests of good cheer…albeit not too much good cheer. Too much of a good thing (i.e. excessiveness) can lead to disastrous outcomes that leave unfavorable impressions.
Excessiveness is defined as “going beyond what is usual, normal, or proper.” The harsh reality is that any excessiveness in consumption/behavior leads to problematic outcomes, for example, excessive borrowing and spending lead to high debt and bankruptcy; excessive eating may lead to unhealthy weight gain. You get the point.
The next time you promptly RSVP “yes” to an office party, heighten your self-awareness and self-restraint and avoid these blunders of excessiveness:
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption – Being the “life of the party” can jeopardize your professional reputation under the watchful scrutiny of upper management. Eat a snack before and set a personal limit of moderation. Personify sophistication while holding a wine glass, too. It’s called stemware for a reason and the proper way to hold a wine glass is by the stem, not the bowl.
Avoid arriving excessively early or staying too late – Arrive on time especially if there will be congratulatory toasts or expressions of acknowledgement. Don’t linger and overstay your welcome.
Avoid excessive chattering – Keen listening is the key to brilliant conversation. It energizes conversation partners, making you a delightful guest. Unfortunately, some have an illusion of superiority and think their listening skills are better than they actually are. People often listen to reply, instead of listening to understand. The French philosopher, Voltaire eloquently cautioned, “When I listen, I have the power, but when I talk, I give it away.”
Avoid excessive complaining – ‘Be of good cheer’ and exude positivity. No one likes to be around a Debbie Downer or a Negative Ned.
Avoid excessive "ghosting" after the party - The host has worked tireless hours to make their guests feel welcomed and special. The day after the party, set yourself apart with unique and polite consideration. Call, text, or email the host the next day to briefly share how much you enjoyed their party. It's the day after the party, when all is quiet and still for the host, that they finally get to decompress. It is then, when they are cleaning and putting dishes away, that they wonder if everyone enjoyed their party. This simple touchpoint of a call or text will be remembered and treasured long after the party is over.
When leaving a party early, should you find the host and say goodbye or discreetly slip out the door? It depends on the number of party attendees. If it’s an intimate gathering, say 10 or fewer, it’s polite to bid a personal farewell thanking the host for a lovely time. If it’s a larger gathering, explain to the host before arrival that you unfortunately must depart early and then leave quietly.
Most importantly, touch the heart of the host with a handwritten note attached to a thoughtful host gift. Express in the note why you value their relationship. Be creative and give something other than wine, which is perfectly acceptable but all too common. Other gift ideas include: baked goods/homemade breakfast casserole to be enjoyed by the fatigued host the next morning, holiday candles, an eclectic frame holding the party invite, or a floral centerpiece delivered the morning of the event for all to enjoy.
In the beloved “A Charlie Brown Christmas” TV special, Lucy ponders, “Are you afraid of responsibility, Charlie Brown?” Charlie Brown laments, “Everything I do turns into a disaster.” Protect your career and avoid your own disaster. Good grief! Be responsible with your holiday etiquette so that you are invited back and your next time in the office is a pleasant one with no regrets.