Getting ready to attend the annual Christmas bash at work? Staying late after hours one December night for pizza and beer-on the company wallet?
If so, wise up before getting your party started and remember that company-sponsored yuletide celebrations are still part of the workplace.
"A party is out of context of the workplace, so people think it's more of a non-work situation," said Mark Sibicky, psychology professor at Marietta College. "They need to keep reminding themselves that they have to make an impression on their boss and their coworkers."
ROBB DECAMP Special to the Times
The staff of Faces by Design in Marietta shares a toast at the company’s recent Christmas party.
Dave Mossor, 74, of Marietta suggested party goers think about what will happen after the company Christmas party.
"Mind your P's and Q's. ...Remember you're gonna go back to work in a day or two," he said.
Now retired, Mossor laughed as he told the story of a work buddy who drank a whole bottle of wine at their company Christmas party 12 or 13 years ago.
At a glance
Power questions that can be good-and safe!-icebreakers at a company Christmas party
Questions about work
What was your best day at work during this past year?
How did you get your start here?
What's on your agenda in your work for next year?
Questions about others' passions
What's your favorite movie of all time? Favorite restaurant? Favorite book you've read in the last couple of years?
Is there something you've always wanted to do, but have never been able to get around to it? (sport, hobby, event, trip, etc.)
As you think about next year, what are you most excited about, at work or at home?
Questions to learn more about coworkers as people
So when you're not shaking things up at the office, how do you like to spend your time?
Where did you grow up? What was that like?
Source: "Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Others" by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas.
Do's and don'ts for company Christmas parties
Do eat something before arriving at the party or nosh on appetizers prior to having that first cocktail, so your stomach is not empty.
Don't indulge in personal confession, expressions of frustration or speeches about what you'd do with the company if you were in charge. A company Christmas party is an extension of the workplace.
Don't make inappropriate advances to your coworkers or their significant others. This can be reason for a pink slip after the party.
Do dress in a way that's appropriate for the party whether it's formal or casual. Nothing too flirty or too laid back. Ask what the attire is ahead of time.
Don't join the crowd for karaoke, dares, pranks and dirty dancing. Resist the temptation to relax too much.
Source: forbes.com; helium.com.
Although the man's wife was "upset," it was lucky he didn't have other repercussions, he said.
Drinking was the top "no no" cited by experts as contributing to behaving badly at the company Christmas to-do.
"Alcohol will lower inhibitions," said Brenda Miscovich, LPCC and owner of Choices Counseling Services in Reno.
"People will tell jokes that they think are funny but aren't. (They're) freer to express emotions like resentments that they may have hidden from a boss or coworkers," she added.
To avoid bad, buzzed party behavior, Miscovich said party goers should think about alcohol consumption first.
"Don't consume alcoholic beverages prior to the party," said Brent Phipps, CEO and licensed social worker at Marietta's L&P Services Inc.
Set a limit on the beer and booze once the party begins.
"Determine what your drink limit is and stick to it," Miscovich said. "If you have an issue, don't drink. Have a Sprite, hold it in your hand and just don't drink."
For those who tend to lose count of their alcohol consumption, "Have a friend or loved one monitor your intake," Sibicky said.
Generally speaking, it's better to err on the side of caution when it comes to party conversations and behavior with coworkers.
"If you're going to make a mistake, it's probably better to make a mistake of being a little shy or reserved than making a mistake in the other direction," said David Schaffer, Parkersburg clinical social worker.
Mike Fagan, 61, of Williamstown, said poor party behavior he has observed "usually involved somebody's wife or girlfriend. It frequently was mutually embarrassing behavior."
"Don't do anything that somebody is gonna talk about later," he added.
Party attire is also important, Miscovich said.
"Be sure what you wear is appropriate and not too over the top. You want to be regarded as a professional," she added
After the party's over, revelers will know the difference between having some good fun and the need to practice serious damage control with the boss and coworkers, Schaffer said.
"If you've done things that you feel sorry about, that you regret, being direct and taking responsibility for those things probably makes sense," he added.
Sibicky was in agreement.
"The best thing is to admit that your behavior was out of line and ask for forgiveness," he said.
An apology can be a first step in healing a workplace rift after bad party behavior.
"People are willing to forgive," Sibicky said. "They're expecting you to admit your misbehavior."
"You just have to go in and face the music," said Phipps.
What's more, misbehaving at this year's Christmas shindig is likely to be remembered for years to come.
"You still have to be careful of your future behavior," said Sibicky.
Jackie Sturm, 42, of Parkersburg agreed.
"You don't want your reputation tarnished," she said.
Sturm also warned against sharing too much information on Facebook.
"Be very discreet on what you post on Facebook," she said. "It's going to be seen."