How to impress your boss at office parties

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Believe it or not, an office holiday party or other social event can be a perfect opportunity to make a good impression on your boss. If you know what to say, when to say it and, of course, when to say good night, you might even have fun. Sarah Ivens, author of numerous Modern Girl's guides to etiquette, shares her secrets for making points with your boss and surviving the office party.

How to impress your boss at office parties

The company holiday party can be a great opportunity to get noticed by your boss if you play it right. Work parties are a good way to spend more time with your boss and to talk to him or her and make a good impression. But you have to get through it with grace and style -- and without being boring or annoying -- to take advantage of it. Here are some pointers:

  • Be charming and start a conversation. Talk about how great the party is, and ask if your boss had anything to do with the planning of the party. If so, make sure you compliment him or her on what a great job they did.
  • Include the people around your boss as well -- don't cut them off, be needy or monopolize attention. If your boss is with his or her spouse or partner, you need to be polite to them as well. Your boss will notice if you're excluding anyone. So be really inclusive and friendly. Don't bore them with office politics.
  • Remember, it's not all about you. If given the opportunity, impress your boss by speak positively about your team members. It needs to be about "Didn't the team do great?” and “Thank you for throwing this party, it's a great night out for us all. We've all worked hard; we all can't wait for next year.” Be confident by supporting your entire company. Don't dwell only on your achievements.
  • Don't take advantage of the "captive audience" that you have with your boss by turning it into a boring meeting. Talk about subjects other than work, making general comments about what's going on in the world that day.
  • Don't use alcohol or the party itself as an excuse to behave inappropriately. Specifically, no unwanted sexual advances because everyone will be looking for something to gossip about the next morning.
  • Don't be foolhardy about dancing on the furniture. If your boss does it, and it's not hurting the furniture, it's probably okay. But don't be the first one to jump up and start.
  • Don't make fun of people in the office. For most good bosses, that is their worst fear. They hate being cornered at a party having to endure negative commentary about others.
  • It's okay to have more fun with your wardrobe than you would during a normal day in the office. Wear something you feel really confident and comfortable in. Perhaps a little black dress that you know works wonders for your figure. If you know it will give you an extra bit of a kick, wear heels if you normally don't wear heels in the office. They will make you feel fabulous.






































Transcript

LISA: I'm Lisa Birnbach for howdini.com.
Holiday office parties can be disastrous. We’ve all heard of, or even lived through, episodes that have eventually haunted us. But the company Christmas party can be a great opportunity if you play it right. To help us navigate through this very tricky time is Sarah Ivens, the editor-in-chief of America’s O.K.! and the author of numerous modern girl guides. She’s here to help tell us how. Hi, Sarah.

SARAH: Hi.

LISA: How do you get through the office party without making a disgrace out of yourself?

SARAH: Well, the biggest thing is not to drink too much, of course. But there are a few easy tips everyone can remember to make sure they make the right impression on the right people without boring them or making them do anything embarrassing. So the big key is to not drink too much.

LISA: Now the temptation is also to somehow interact with your boss, right? Do you want to get your boss to notice you at the Christmas party?

SARAH: I think Christmas parties are a great way to spend more time with your boss and to talk to him or her and really make a good impression on them. What you don't want to do is turn it into a very boring meeting. You don't want to get them into the corner of the room, separate them from their friends and their colleagues and just pound them with your resume and how great you are and how fabulous you are and all the figures from the last year. That is exactly what you don't want to do.

LISA: Right.

SARAH: What you want to do is you want to be charming and start a conversation, include the people around them as well, not cut them off and sort of be all needy and attention-grabbing. You want to talk to the people around them as well and not just concentrate on your boss, if they are with their partner, you need to be polite to their partner as well because your boss of course will notice that if you're excluding his/her wife, partner, whatever. So you need to be really inclusive, friendly and not just bore them with office politics or making fun of people in the office. You want to be saying how great the party is, did you have anything to do with it, this is fun, talking about the future, making general comments about what's going on in the world that day. It doesn't all need to be about the office.

LISA: How do you do all that and not look like a suck-up?

SARAH: Be charming. And as I said, don't be very much, “I did this and I did that and I'm fabulous.” It needs to be about "Didn't the team do great?” and “Thank you for throwing this party, it's a great night out for us all. We've all worked hard; we all can't wait for next year.” You know, just be charming and laid back about the whole thing. You just need to make sure that you're not, I really can't bear it when someone gets the boss in a corner and you know, I'm a boss so I really spot it a mile from people that are doing it to me. Some people are all about putting other people down to make themselves look better. That is, most good bosses, that is their worst fear, they hate that. All you have to do is be totally charming and confident by upping your whole team and by being super happy about the whole company and not just about your achievements.

LISA: Keys to a good impression? I mean obviously, what you wear and how you behave, not just with your boss but with others, right?

SARAH: Yes, absolutely. At the Christmas party you should dress, you know, have more fun with your wardrobe than you would during a normal day in the office, of course. But don't get crazy. This isn't the time to bring out your 80's leggings or to wear a low-cut dress hoping you can attract the man in accounts with your cleavage. That is not what you should be doing.

LISA: Now you tell me!

SARAH: It's my favorite thing, really, but I've learned the hard way not to do that. So what you have to do is just wear something you feel really confident and comfortable in. Don't go over the top, wear a little black dress that you know works wonders for your figure. If you know it give you an extra bit of a kick, wear heels if you normally wear heels in the office. Wear heels: That will make you feel fabulous, you will look different and look sexier but not tarty, that is the key.

LISA: Sexy but not tarty.

SARAH: Don't do tarty.

LISA: In terms of the way you comport yourself with your co-workers, this is a good night to be friendly with everybody, not bring feuds back into the party.

SARAH: This is not the night to have few too many drinks and to grab the girl that has been giving you dirty looks in the restrooms and to sort it outside. This is not the night; no night is nice to do that, but this is certainly not the night to do that because everyone will be looking for something to gossip about the next morning. Do you remember that? The office party is the next day everyone crawls into work, feeling lousy, not wanting to do anything useful, just gossiping about what happened the night before. So do remember that and do act appropriately.

LISA: And probably no dancing on furniture?

SARAH: I'm personally an advocate for dancing on the furniture. There isn't anything wrong with it, and you’re not hurting the furniture. So I don't know, dance on furniture; just make sure you are wearing knickers!

LISA: Thank you, Sarah.
For howdini.com, I'm Lisa Birnbach.

meet theexpert
  • Sarah Ivens

    Sarah Ivens Author and Former Editor-in-Chief of OK! Magazine Sarah Ivens, author and former Editor-in-Chief of OK! Magazine, is a born and bred Londoner who moved to New York to launch OK! Weekly Magazine in April 2005. more about this expert »

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