Articles for Professionals

Work Hard, Train Hard, Play Hard… But Not So Hard You Get Fired


We all enjoy a good Christmas party but they can be a trap for new players.

You don’t want to find yourself doing things you’ll regret for years to come. At best you may be embarrassed. At worst, it could cost you respect, your job, clients and/or your partner.

Following are my tips for keeping yourself nice over the festive season.

Do attend.
Regardless of how you feel about a social gathering with workmates, Christmas parties are a great way for employers to show their appreciation and for staff to gather in an informal environment. Think of it like a Sunday afternoon visit to Grandma – even if you don’t feel like it, you know that you probably should go. Hey, in the very least, it’s an opportunity to enjoy some food and drink on the boss’ tab.

As industries go, we’re blessed with a disproportionately large number of confident, good looking / beautiful and physically attractive professionals. When dressing for your work function, find a compromise between ‘I’m attractive and sexy’ and ‘Take me seriously, I’m a professional’. Revealing clothing, while fun, is not always appropriate around co-workers, superiors and clients. It doesn’t hurt to think beyond the event to the image you’d like your co-workers to retain of you in months to come!

Do arrive on time.
This is a work party, not a nightclub. So turning up ‘fashionably late’ is not an option and could have you missing out on all the fun. Arriving on time gives you the opportunity to say hello to everyone, and still get out early without seeming rude.

The exit strategy.
It’s not a bad idea to have a valid early exit strategy in place. This could be a way to save face by leaving for a ‘legitimate’ reason before things become awkward or strange.

Drink responsibly.
Don’t forget where you are – technically, still at work because you’re with the work crowd, so treat the party as an extension to your work day. If there is one thing that can damage your reputation, it’s getting out of control on the liquor at the work Christmas party. No matter how much management insists you let your hair down, don’t. Wait until after the party if getting well oiled is your plan; grab the few trusted co-workers and head off somewhere else.

If drinking alcohol…

  • Eat first before drinking. Drinking on an empty stomach is asking for trouble.
  • Space out your drinks with water and more food, and lots of conversation.
  • Under no circumstances allow yourself to get hammered. The more drinks you have, the more likely you are to do something that you’ll regret.
  • Avoid using alcohol as the excuse to let out a year’s worth of pent-up resentment and frustration about your boss, co-workers, or the workplace in general.

Romance responsibly.
Be careful about declaring your romantic intentions. By all means, use this informal time to converse, establish mutual interests and put in some ‘ground work’. BUT, making declarations of love can go horribly awry. Remember, whatever happens, you will have to see this person at work on Monday.

On this note, some words of caution…

  • Be discreet. Co-workers WILL gossip as soon as they see anything happen.
  • If you find yourself being hit on and it’s not to your liking, be tactful. You don’t want to damage relationships with your co-workers or boss, so let them down gently (exit strategy?)
  • Bear in mind the potential for claims of sexual harassment. Do not touch people in ways that can be misinterpreted, or say things that are considered demeaning or sexually provocative. Use your common sense.

Be the Super Hero.
If you see a co-worker overdoing the drinking or making a move when they are clearly not mentally cognizant, step in and bail them out. Help them understand what’s going on and, if required, call them a cab. This is one time where your own executive decision-making can save their reputation. You can always return to the party after if you like, but don’t bring up what you’ve just done, it’s a helping act to fix things quietly and with grace.

Have a great festive season and send me some pictures of your team at play.


Dennis Hosking.


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