Party Your Way to Career Success
Miller's article was prompted by a query from a reader.
"Is it legal to force people to attend these events as part of the performance appraisal process?" the reader writes, "If so, should I just suck it up and go, or try to explain my discomfort to my managers?"
Or, simply file a lawsuit.
According to Miller, the employer who includes "party animal" as a requirement for promotion "could have what employment discrimination law calls a 'disparate impact' on those who are unable to attend."
Like they're shy, or they have brains, or they don't want to miss another episode of "Hip-Hop Squares."
Miller's recommendation is to avoid "bringing out the legal big guns." I agree. There are ways to not only succeed at office parties, but to actually use them to jump-start your career.
As is often the case, preparation is key. Even when it is not requested, you show up in costume. Demonstrate your commitment to the company by arriving at the IT Department's "Tropical Island Luau" dressed as a prisoner from a southern chain gang. Shackle yourself to the leg of the nearest Senior V.P. and you're ready to party hearty.
If you are forced to wear one of those sticky, "HI, I'M..." name badges, take the opportunity to demonstrate your creativity with a badge that reads, "HI, I'M... still highly infectious," or, "HI, I'M... a serial killer." It's a great way to show that you're a fun person, and if the conversation goes sour, no one knows your name.
A critical party performance metric is networking. My recommendation is to talk to everyone, but listen to no one. It will just slow you down. If it's a small party, and you've networked you way through the crowd, don't be afraid to go around again.
"Have we met before?" you ask a person you've just met five minutes earlier, "you look so familiar."
What a terrific way to show you're a people person.
To dance or not to dance is the question if your company is run by sadists who insist on subjecting employees to their own bad taste in music. Rather than being tortured by hours of Vanilla Ice or Duran Duran, bring bagpipes to the party, hop up on a table, and get down. The fact that you don't know how to play the bagpipes doesn't matter. You'll get points for thinking out of the box. You'll also have a great reason to leave early, when the entire staff chases you and your accordion out of the party and onto the streets.
Clearly, working hard to have fun at office parties will not be easy, but it is certainly worth a try. If you can demonstrate outstanding performance at your company's office parties, your boss may forgive your goofs, screw-ups and blunders everywhere else.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com