TL;DR – Cause a scene at your work party.
Just make sure it’s the right one.
Yes, every other article on the interwebs will tell you to strictly abide by proper work-appropriate etiquette when attending all company-sponsored activities. Mind your P’s and Q’s, don’t ruffle feathers, be as boring as you can, etc. etc. Let me save you some googling and list the traditional must follow “Don’t…” rules for after hours office events:
- Don’t drink too much.
- Don’t eat too much.
- Don’t dress too sexy.
- Don’t trash talk the company.
- Don’t post/tweet inappropriately.
- Don’t flirt or provoke.
- Don’t NOT show up…
Ok, we get it. Moral of the story is to act PROFESSIONALLY. Just because this is an offsite event doesn’t mean its not a work environment. So you need to act with the same respectability as you would during the normal 9-5 hours. Show consideration to your fellow coworkers and keep all your tendencies in moderation. I agree with all the above and fully endorse those [how-to-be-boring] bullet points.
I do NOT suggest anyone be boring. If you follow traditional rules alone that’s exactly what will happen. And consequently a lot of people at your party will be boring, blending into the wallpaper. That is good for you! You can use this opportunity to showcase your individuality in a new setting. While everyone is zigging, you will zag. And you’ll do it without violating those cardinal “Don’t…” rules.
How to cause a scene, the right way.
Truthfully, you don’t want to cause a scene so much as become memorable in a positive way. Your office party is by default a common audience in an atypical atmosphere. This allows for all different kinds of social situations, interactions, and reactions. Expectations however, are usually the same. Turn the model on its head and leverage these situations to exceed (not violate) those expectations. Here a few ways you can do this.
Individuality – Dress appropriately but don’t be afraid to add a personal touch/flair as relevant. And remember, subtly plays better than flamboyance in the long run. From nontraditional fashion accessories (studded/spiked suspenders) to a daring new hairstyle to flashy shoe-wear, whatever it is that makes you feel more like you, can be easily infused into any party attire. Use this chance to fully embrace your individuality. Though your outfit is the simplest way to make a statement, it shouldn’t be the only statement you make.
Energy – Show your excitement and confidence the minute you enter the room. In your walk, in your posture, in your look, and in your focus on conversations. Let every expression spark with purpose and fuel others with the same electricity.
Attitude – An upbeat positive attitude is always key. It will carry you through even the most boring small talk. As a task, find something nice to say about others in every conversation circle you can. Complimenting coworkers to other coworkers in front of each other will set the tone and invitation for others to do the same. Not to mention the uplift in colleagues’ confidence which can directly translate into better teamwork and collaboration.
Below are a few more tips that will leave you in a positive memorable light.
- Talk shop but not too much shop. Don’t drag down conversation by only talking about work. Of course its your common thread but use the evening to explore more interesting topics when you can. If you want to vent, save it for another time. If your coworker begins to vent, acknowledge but then steer the conversation back to the positive. Your leadership will be noted by those around you.
- Don’t hound the C-suite. Sure office parties can sometimes provide us easier access to upper management, CEO’s, etc. But don’t follow them around with the only hope of sharing your big idea or “major issue”. If you do get a chance to connect, simply inform them you’d like to put some time on their calendar to discuss a potential opportunity, then carry on with your positivity. The directness and the mystery of your offer with be better received and more memorable as well.
- Give thanks. Should go without saying but verbal ‘thank you’s” to the event planning team, help staff, and your boss is a must. You can comment on decorations and the food but it’s much more memorable to share the impact the event has/had on your relationship building. Deliver that thank you with the fact that you were able to discuss new opportunities and/or solutions with an individual you otherwise wouldn’t have done so with. This type of exchange and gratitude becomes much more valuable.
What are some of the ways you’ve caused a scene at your work event? Was it a positive memorable moment? Share your tips and advice in the comments below!