December 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts December 2002 Current Issue
December 2002
Short Cuts:
Office Party Politics

Before you get ready to show off your macarena moves or prized karaoke skills, keep in mind that office parties are a business affair, advises etiquette guru Hilka Klinkenberg, founder of New York City-based Etiquette International ( “The three biggest mistakes people make are drinking too much, hanging out with their buddies instead of circulating, and exhibiting poor dining skills,” says Klinkenberg, who has gone on house calls to revamp employee behavior at Fortune 500 heavies such as Continental Airlines, Merrill Lynch, Sony and Toyota.

Dressing inappropriately, ignoring management, arriving late, ducking out early and indulging in office gossip also make the list of offenses. And it is extremely important to introduce yourself to top brass with a warm handshake, state your name and department, and then move on. “You shouldn’t hog their time or use the festivities as an opportunity to put forward your favorite platform,” warns Klinkenberg. Other smart moves:

• Arrive no later than 20 minutes after the party has started, and don’t be the first or last to leave.

• Avoid discussing intimate details of a personal nature.

• Limit yourself to no more than two alcoholic drinks.

• Accept any honors gracefully.

• Give thanks. “You don’t have to fawn all over the host,” notes Klinkenberg, “but you should at least say, ‘Thank you for such a delightful event.’”

When employees act badly, says Klinkenberg, “management starts to wonder: ‘If they are like this when I’m around, what are they like with clients when I’m not?’”

• Cheryl-Anne Sturken

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