For many of us, summer brings invitations to social company events like a picnic, BBQ or after-work cocktail party. These events can provide excellent opportunities to let off steam, socialize with co-workers and improve office morale. However, it’s incredibly important to remember that correct work etiquette doesn’t end when the party begins.
Remember, you’re attending these events with your colleagues, employees, higher-ups, and possibly even clients. That is why it’s so important to be aware of your surroundings at all times and watch how you behave. This doesn’t mean you can’t let loose and have fun. Just follow these social etiquette rules to ensure that you don’t say or do something you’ll regret come Monday morning.
Dress Appropriately for the Event
Just because a party is happening after hours or on the weekend doesn’t mean you get to throw all of your basic wardrobe rules out the window. Creating a personal brand identity requires that you pay attention to how you’re presenting yourself at all times. In my last post, Personal Brand Management: Summer Wardrobe, I offered several tips on how to dress appropriately as the weather gets warmer, and specific advice for how to adjust your outfit when going directly from work to an office event.
In general, if your office is business formal, dressing down to business casual for a party should be fine. If you’re attending an outdoor event, shorts and short-sleeved button downs for men are acceptable, as are dresses (with appropriate bust and hemlines) for women. However, if you’re unsure about dress code, check with the event organizers.
Eat and Drink in Moderation
When it comes to alcohol and work events, less is always more. The more you drink, the more likely you are to say something you’ll regret later, use foul language, or reveal sensitive information. If you’re someone who doesn’t do well with alcohol, avoid it outright. Otherwise, stick to a strict two-drink maximum.
If food is served, feel free to enjoy yourself but keep the rules of proper dining etiquette in mind. Eat with your mouth closed, don’t load your plate simply because the food is free, and use your utensils correctly.
Talk About Something Other Than Work
I recently attended a retirement party for a former colleague and every single conversation I overheard was about work! Not only were these conversations incredibly dull but they included a lot of inappropriate nitpicking about co-workers and complaining about the office culture. I wanted to tell people to stop it!
Work events are supposed to be fun, so leave the work talk at the office and have a conversation about anything else. People love to talk about themselves. Ask your colleagues questions about their kids, their summer vacation plans, or their hobbies. When they answer, be present. Put your phone away and have a civil conversation with the person standing in front of you.
When it’s your turn to talk, let people know who you are outside of work. Do you like to hike, camp, boat, ride bikes? Being authentic will help you facilitate connections and create alliances that lead to better communication and higher morale back at the office.
If you have a work event coming up and you’re unsure about how to dress or nervous about how to behave, contact me today to see how working with a professional image consultant can help.