The era of pompous festive balls is inexorably receding into the past, and only a few companies allow themselves high-class receptions. In all other cases, small firms and large corporations prefer to have fun in a more or less uniform format - at corporate parties, which invariably imply two seemingly mutually exclusive conditions: celebrate violently and actively and at the same time always "save face".
Times are changing, many of the old rules of etiquette are fading into oblivion, and at the same time, the boundaries of how you can and cannot behave at such events are often erased. However, there is still a universal solution, which many experts on business etiquette adhere to: no matter how informal your management is planning, you are still at work. This means that you will also have to relax in moderation.
Of course, a corporate party is not an evening reception at the British queen, and therefore it does not imply the strictest rules of etiquette to the detriment of someone's comfort. And yet, over the decades of ubiquitous business practice, the world has developed several important conditions for such events. Let's talk about the most important ones.
To come or not?
One of the biggest misconceptions of some not very sociable employees is the holy belief that you can come to a corporate party "at will". To demonstrate how disrespectful and rude this approach is towards management, it is enough to imagine how you skip any other party, despite the fact that the hosts have already counted on you for the menu, alcohol, places, and so on. Not too polite, is it?
The feeling of “a small gear in a large corporate car” can certainly haunt you at any corporate event, but here your attitude towards the company - respectful and loyal, plays a key role. “As much as you want to miss the party, you have to come,” etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer tells the CIO portal. - Mandatory for execution. If you don't, then this step of yours will broadcast a negative message to the management. Be sure it will notice everything."
If you cannot attend the party for completely objective circumstances, then not informing anyone is no less gross violation. Send a response with thanks and an explanation, or at least just contact the manager - the main thing is to do it in advance, and not at the very last moment. Otherwise, it may raise suspicions that you, like a little schoolboy, are coming up with a reason not to go.
Punctuality and timing
Another equally common misconception about office holidays is that in such a large company or corporation, no one will notice if you come later or leave earlier (after all, the main thing is to "light up", isn't it?). And even if you have the most compelling reason for being late - let's say you, unlike your colleagues, take your work too seriously and want to do as much as possible in a short day. That's just counting on the fact that the management will appreciate your hard work, it is worth with a probability of "50 to 50". What it will definitely not appreciate is your negligent attitude to the holiday, for which a lot of effort and solid budgets were spent. After all, couldn't you have optimized and finished early?
As a rule, prudent organizers set aside a small amount of time for the so-called “gathering of guests” - usually about half an hour. It is necessary to arrive at the place during this period, even better - within the first 15-20 minutes.
It is very important to arrive on time, also because it is at the beginning of the party that the management usually takes a greeting word and congratulates subordinates. Skipping this portion of the event is showing your boss that you are only here for food, alcohol, and entertainment.
In the same way, it is important to leave on time - not earlier and not later. Changing dishes will help to keep track of the timing: for example, if the staff of a restaurant or club is already serving dessert, then you can guess that the party will soon come to an end. If the waiters are already cleaning the dishes and starting to mop the floors, do not hesitate: you are very late. It is doubly unpleasant if you, while straightening out the next glass, missed the moment when the management and organizers leave the party: etiquette obliges you to say goodbye to them and thank them separately for the evening.
Of course, a lot depends on the dress code of the company itself, and it is on it that you should focus on when choosing an outfit for a corporate party. Many etiquette experts agree that an outfit for a party with colleagues should be a little more elegant than your usual business suit and certainly exclude excessive sexuality (like plunging necklines, short skirts, etc.). “Leave all the short, tight and revealing clothes at home and save for a party that your colleagues will not be attending,” advises Sharon Schweizer. - It's hard to create a professional image. So don't ruin everything overnight."
Difficulties begin when the organizers indicate a special dress code for the party (you can find it out by reading the invitation or contacting HR), and it is very far from the business chic you are used to. While requirements like black tie or cocktail attire can still be sorted out, more creative proposals like "Old Hollywood" or "90s" can make anyone nervous.
To comply or not to comply? The answer is obvious: of course, observe, otherwise they may be accused of disrespect. But to what extent to adhere to the given dress code is up to you. You may well think over your outfit to the smallest detail, and dwell on the general color scheme or accessories.
Should I take my spouse with me?
This question can also be clarified with the management, but, as a rule, if the invitation does not indicate otherwise, then the employee comes to the holiday alone. In general, such parties should be considered in many ways not just as a mandatory surprise from the company, but also as a typical corporate event designed to strengthen ties between colleagues, increase loyalty to the organization, and so on. If an employee brings a spouse, lover or just a friend with him, there is a chance that he or she will spend the rest of the evening exclusively in his company.
Some avoid him in every possible way, others look forward to it, but, one way or another, you will have to communicate anyway. You should not neglect short conversations - after all, this is one of the most effective ways to acquire useful contacts, get to know your boss better, knock out a new project for yourself, and so on.
An important point: a corporate party is that rare chance when you can personally see the CEO of the company or someone from the top management and talk to them.
One of the safest options is to go up to the bosses and the organizers and thank them for the great party by noting the decor, menu, or program. “As a rule, office parties are organized by entire teams of people, not to mention the bosses who pay for it all,” Justin Lavelle, an expert on personal branding, tells American Forbes. - So take a couple of minutes to thank them. It would seem that this is a trifle, but in itself the organization of such events for such people is at the expense of their working time. Therefore, they will be glad if someone appreciates their efforts. Just a question of courtesy."
Etiquette experts point out another common rule: talking about work should be avoided, because after a tiring day at work, such topics are not at all fun. It is also strongly discouraged to complain about anything - be it harmless traffic jams or your dissatisfaction with the company's offices. The taboo on negativity also extends to the discussion of high-profile news about politics, economics, religion, and, of course, any gossip.
The most winning themes: travel, culture, tradition, leisure. Keeping a distance, it is permissible to talk about family matters - for example, if a colleague praises his child's progress in school, you can try to ask him about it in more detail.
“Keep your conversation positive and only last 5-10 minutes,” advises Sharon Schweizer. "At the party you are celebrating the successful end of the year, so a cheerful mood is a must."
Alcohol and toast
Only you decide to drink or not drink at a corporate party, but one thing is important here: if you have already decided to drink, then do not overdo it, and if not, then refrain from phrases "alcohol is evil", "I don’t drink in principle" and the like, so as not to embarrass the rest. Some experts advise on such holidays to take one glass of champagne for toast, and throughout the evening, if you do not want to drink, choose soft drinks.
In general, the topic of alcohol requires maximum discretion from both those who drink and those who abstain. The phrase "why aren't you drinking?" embarrassing no less than "I actually don't drink." And you certainly shouldn't insist on offering a colleague a drink if he or she refuses.
A separate field for demonstrating good manners is toast. Chances are, your bosses will want to single out several employees during the banquet and drink to their achievements separately. “If your colleague is being honored, raise your glass at the end of the toast and only after the person making the toast,” instructs Sharon Schweizer. "After that, pause: your colleague may want to make a toast in return." If congratulations are dedicated to you, then there are also rules. For example, drinking for yourself in this case is not worth it (just like clapping in your honor, by the way), and after that you need to say a couple of nice replies in gratitude.
Your company was throwing a party not only to feed you, so you should not, barely entering the banquet hall, pounce on food without greeting anyone. The best decision that an employee can make on the day of a corporate party is to eat something high-energy in advance, so that at the party itself, you can eat in good company, and not frantically satisfy the hunger that has been developed during the working day. For the same reasons, it is considered indecent if guests take food and alcohol “with them”.
In addition, Sharon Schweitzer also advises not to forget about the basic rules of etiquette at receptions: do not talk until you have chewed food, do not eat from the marmite, use napkins and always (!) Keep your hands clean - in case of anticipated and unexpected handshakes.
Photos and social networks
Capturing yourself at a corporate party is not only not forbidden, but even encouraged. Nobody forbids you to take photos with your camera or smartphone, even if the company has already hired a professional for these purposes. True, certain rules still have to be adhered to.
Not every colleague likes to be photographed, so you should ask permission every time (!) When you want to catch someone through the lens. The same applies to selfies: you shouldn't just approach a person and immediately take a picture, because your partner may well not even have time to orient himself.
A separate point concerns social networks, especially popular live broadcasts and stories lately. Filming and photographing colleagues without their permission on the dance floor, at the table, at the bar, and so on is the height of disrespect. In the end, they may notice an unflattering publication with themselves in the lead role only in the morning - when a good half of your team has already seen it. What good, perhaps it was just entertainment for you, and the person may lose his job (examples are: "How to ruin your career with one post on the social network: 17 real stories"). The same applies to photos from the party in the "feed": coordinate the publication with everyone who is present in the picture, and be sympathetic to a possible refusal.
The next day
You will be very lucky if management decides to organize a corporate party on Friday: it will be time to sleep and recover over the weekend. But if you walked around the whole office on one of the weekdays, then the morning after the holiday may not be conducive to work as much as possible. As a rule, in this case, many are tempted to call the boss and take sick leave. However, is it really worth doing this is still a big question, because with a great degree of probability your boss will still understand the true reason for your "sick leave". And he will not be happy about this, because this way you damage the work process.
Moreover, if the corporate party went through all the rules and without emergencies, then the next day employees should not feel shame or embarrassment, but a sense of solidarity and camaraderie. Immediately after the party, these emotions will be at their peak, and therefore being at this moment with the team, and not in bed, is the same gesture of courtesy and gratitude, like other rules of etiquette.
And five more important rules that should be observed at corporate parties and after them:
- A small life hack from the School of Etiquette in New York: once you enter the premises, do not try to immediately dive into the depths. To get started, move a little to the right and stay in place. This will allow you to find key people to talk to through your eyes, as well as give other guests a chance to notice you.
- While walking around the hall, hold a glass in your left hand. Then your right hand will be free to shake hands, and it will not be unpleasantly cold and wet.
- Corporate events include dances and competitions. Of course, you can always refuse them, but not always politely. Remember that sometimes even politicians and aristocrats have to sacrifice principles and overcome shyness.
Flirting with a colleague with whom you are not romantically involved is absolutely unacceptable in any way. Nowadays, when so much public attention is attracted to the concept of harassment, such behavior can cost the position (read also: “What is harassment in Russian and how can (and should) be dealt with”).
- Even if at the end of the party you spent a good half hour thanking all of your management, don't hesitate to send him and your colleagues a thank you letter the next day. In addition, some part of your work time should be devoted to communicating with those with whom you met the day before by sending them an email with additional information about yourself.
Photo: stills from films
- How to quickly recover from a corporate party: 5 simple and effective methods
- Usage rules: how to forget about a hangover forever
- Modern manners: what is good manners in the 21st century
- How to celebrate the New Year of the White Metal Ox 2021: recommendations for the signs of the zodiac