Behaviour expert Dr Pam Spurr helps you cope with tricky office party scenarios.
Haven't we all been there skulked into the office the morning after the Christmas party feeling humiliated by our behaviour? Whether we flirted outrageously with the MD or had a seasonal snog with the office junior, we wish the ground would swallow us up.
Fear not, here's the girl's guide to preventing Christmas party crises... and making amends if you end up behaving badly.
There's a happy balance to aim for between letting your hair down a bit with the MD and recognising they have a responsibility for the company including you.
Think of it like how you'd behave around your parents' friends you'd be relaxed, enjoy their company but you wouldn't drunkenly drag them onto the dance floor, would you?
Say hello early in the evening before you've had many drinks. And definitely 'party' by the rule of one alcoholic drink, alternated with a non-alcoholic drink, etc.
Never use this as a time to discuss things like your views of company policy views you're likely to think are terribly important after one-too-many drinks.
Your direct line manager/boss
Never suck up to them hoping to influence your next promotion. The Christmas party's never the place to do so. And they'll see right through your attempts no manager wants to be under this pressure in a party scenario.
Definitely keep things light and not about the office. Conversation should revolve around the venue, the music, the food, Christmas plans… in other words anything but trying to sway how they feel about you and your future at the company.
Never criticise a colleague to them hoping it puts you in a better light. Not only does it look super-sneaky but it definitely spoils the party atmosphere for them.
Depending on the type of workplace you're in it may be absolutely fine to get on the dance floor with your manager... but not to a slow, smoochy R&B number!
You might think you two share a bond as direct colleagues but if you don't also share a friendship outside of work be careful how much you gossip with them after a drink or two. You risk putting your foot in it by gossiping about someone they like.
Also never confide career plans/goals of yours that might potentially be in competition with their own game plan. Memories are terribly long for things like that not even after plenty of Christmas cocktails.
Definitely use it as the time to have fun together on the dance floor, chatting to other colleagues, and generally having fun because that can strengthen your relationship at work.
A colleague you think is hot
Okay, so you've been dying to flirt with this colleague and you figure the Christmas party will be the perfect opportunity. Playful flirting is definitely acceptable but making highly-sexed innuendo is too much.
Begin by checking out how the land lies with them with gentle flirting. If they respond positively then enjoy it. Obviously respect their boundaries if they don't flirt back. You win some, you lose some and you don't want to embarrass yourself by trying too hard.
Just remember, if they obviously fancy you back and you go in for a seasonal snog be prepared to be the centre of office gossip in the near future. And snog discreetly not drunkenly on the dance floor for all to see.
Just because he/she is junior to you doesn't mean they shouldn't be treated like any other colleague with complete respect. No excuses for teasing that pimply office 'runner' even if you think 'he's sweet'. He won't see it as friendly teasing he'll see it as mortifying.
And never expect the junior who might make your coffees/teas during the day to fetch your drinks at a party
Morning after rescue rule no 1: Fake it to make it
Okay, so you were snogging a colleague you shouldn't you don't want be gossiped about but also don't want to make a big deal of it. Stroll in with head held high and fake it to make it. Fake confidence and show a no-worries attitude about the night before and you might just pull it off.
Remember how short colleagues' memories are when the 'next big thing' of juicy Christmas gossip starts doing the rounds.
Morning after rescue rule no 2: Saying sorry sincerely
If your night-before behaviour potentially has lasting consequences then a heartfelt apology is the best first step. Make it straightforward, no beating around the bush, take your colleague aside and explain how much you want to make amends.
The majority of people will be more than happy to accept it and move on quickly.
Morning after rescue rule no 3: A gift goes far
If you think you went a little bit far maybe teasing a colleague about who they fancy when that person was in earshot bring in an 'apology' gift. Something Christmassy and fun that'll take the sting out of your slightly bad behaviour.
Morning after rescue rule no 4: Confess your feelings
If you really like that colleague you had a drunken fumble with behind the filing cabinet maybe you should 'fess up. Flirt and say how much fun you had and suggest meeting up soon. Many relationships have begun at Christmas parties!
Morning after rescue rule no 5: Proof is in the pudding
Finally, depending on the circumstances you may just have to prove yourself over the next few weeks. Let your responsible and reliable side shine through and hopefully all will be forgotten soon.