Tuesday, 18 Dec 2018

Can I spend the holiday party at the office?

Reader: Almost every year, my office's Christmas party is scheduled to take place the week before my biggest holiday of the year. And as before, I plan to party. Apparently, this annoys some of my co-workers who, in previous years, have e-mailed me in capital letters inviting me to attend.

The fact is, even if I find the time to go to the party, I will probably be so worried about the next day's work that I can not imagine being a very good company. But I painfully realize that it's bad for me not to go. Although I get along well with most people, my job requires a lot of concentration in an open plan office. So I'm not always so friendly and approachable that I should not be at work.

So, am I trying to attend and make the most of it, even if my presence does not add much? Or am I just living with the disapproval of my colleagues? The party venue is very close – easily accessible on foot.

Karla: Usually, deciding to attend a social event boils down to one question: do you want to go? (I guess you do not do it – call it an intuition.)

But a work event is not an ordinary social event – especially if your absence will be noticed.

We make a lot of work-related decisions that conflict with our customers. We can dream of dissuading our colleagues from irritating or wearing our comfortable Unic Unicorn at work – but in the end, most of us abstain after thinking about what it might cost us in reputation and in opportunities.

So do a more in-depth cost-benefit analysis and focus on what you personally have to gain or lose.

First, will it hurt you to go there? If attending the party hurts your health – for example, you suffer from social anxiety or you are really too tired to party – skip it. If attendance prevents you from meeting your deadline, you may have to work before, but at least inform your boss that you are not deliberately antisocial. (Bonus: this may encourage them to plan the evening of next year at a better time for everyone.)

If you determine that participating will not hurt you, the next obvious question is: will it make you feel good?

First, the more intense the project, the more vital it is to make it appear. Presumably, you would take at least a break for dinner. Why not enjoy this dinner on behalf of your employer?

Second, investing an hour of friendly gossip could yield big dividends in goodwill when you return to the grindstone. It's not that you should be ashamed of your colleagues' emails, but I can not help but think that maybe they just want to see you more often. And do not worry about being less than a flickering business. Just keep your hands in front of you and your feet out of the punch bowl, and all they will remember is that you were there.

Final assessment, without hidden costs for your well-being: take a break + feed yourself + you create a camaraderie = a well spent hour.


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