Last week’s blog gave a refresher on the importance of body language with first impressions. With the holidays nearly upon us, we have to talk about holiday parties and how your body language can make or break relationships with others at these events. The holiday party that immediately comes to mind for most people is the annual event put on by your company. During these occasions, you want to have fun with colleagues, make a few smart professional connections, and possibly spark some romance with that coworker you have had your eye on for a while. This can be incredibly challenging for many reasons, so here are some tips to make this night a success on a non-verbal level.
First, despite all the mistletoe and temptations to break free of inhibition, act professionally. Avoid drinking too much during the party. Stick to one or two drinks and keep your wits about you. More people than your crush are watching you, including people that have control over your job. If there is dancing at the party, dance like everyone is watching you. Do not be that coworker that gets on the pole or table and embarrasses her/himself with a dirty dancing routine. Instead, treat the party like a networking event – carry business cards and look for ways to make a connection with people outside of work. You can about talk similar interests and work in plans to see that band that you both like together.
Second, be aware of your company’s HR policies. If you want to hit it off with your crush, but the company forbids in-office relationships, you need to determine whether this person is worth losing your job over. If there is no anti-relationship policy, you still have to figure out if a romance could work and if you are both mature enough to be discreet and respectful whether or not the relationship pans out. Remember, if it does not work, you will still have to interact with this person professionally. It is in your best interest to keep your interest in this person to yourself, rather than share it with colleagues, to avoid gossip. If you and your romantic interest do begin to date, keep it professional in the work place and be careful of how you broadcast your relationship on social media so as to avoid a PR disaster.
Finally, be the person that you would want to date. You would not want to date the drunken woman stuffing her face with holiday cookies and telling loud stories to anyone who will listen, so you can imagine that your crush would not want to date that person either. You also would not like to date the loud office “bro” who is recounting sales stories with his buddies and chances are she will not want to date that guy either. If you truly want to make a good impression on your crush during this event, you have to put in some effort. Dress appropriately, be clean and smell good. Keep your volume to an appropriate level, and act like a lady/gentleman. Smile and make contact with others, and be genuine with this other person. Try to connect with them on a relationship level, rather than just a hook-up level. You can be flirty, of course – most people are flattered by another person’s romantic interest in them – but be wary of crossing any personal boundaries. Spend time with this person just getting to know them, and do not be afraid to ask them out for a non-work related activity. Some good ideas include drinks or coffee after the party, a movie, a sporting event, a concert or a meal at a restaurant. If you and your colleagues have made plans to do something after the party or even on a regular workday after work, invite that person to come along. They may feel less intimidated and more open to going with you if they know other coworkers are going along as well.
Everyone just wants to have a good time and enjoy the party. So when it comes time to flirt this holiday season, eat, drink and be merry – but be careful of crossing the line into inappropriateness.