As Toastmasters, we are taught that all speaking is public speaking. Whether we are doing a prepared speech, practicing impromptu speaking through Table Topics or counting “ahs” and “ums”, we recognize that all conversations can benefit from a little practice and preparation.
I recently came across an article about how to “Talk Smart at the Holiday Office Party”. Here are a few of the conversation faux pas that the author suggests we watch out for to keep our careers on track during the holiday party season as well as year-round:
Making inappropriate comments, even in jest. Remember that an office party is a business situation and business etiquette rules apply. Using sexual innuendo or telling off-color jokes at the holiday work party is a sure-fire way to attract the wrong kind of attention.
Not shaking hands when the opportunity presents itself. When introducing yourself or greeting people you know, do you hesitate to extend your hand when you meet a member of the opposite sex? Not offering to shake hands with them will peg a man as a sexist and a woman as unsure of herself. Therefore, at office celebrations and everywhere else for that matter (except for religious, cultural or physical reasons) both men and women should take the initiative to shake hands with everyone they meet. And make sure the handshake is a good strong one that exudes confidence.
Talking only with your officemates. Chatting with your work buddies for a few minutes is part of the fun but staying with your closed circle too long could cast you as cliquish, not interested and not open to outsiders. Staying on one place too long may give the impression that you are shy, self-conscious or lack confidence. Instead, chat with your friends for a few minutes then move on to work the room and introduce yourself to others you want to get to know better.
Complaining or gossiping about colleagues or clients. It’s tempting and may even be well-deserved, but never get involved in a gripe session while attending the holiday office party. It’s obvious, but people seem to do it all the time, especially after a few drinks. Even if you aren’t doing the complaining, being part of the group could cost you a great price. Try to politely excuse yourself from the conversation as quickly as possible, or at least take the initiative to bring up something that changes the conversation to a more positive topic.
The holiday office party is a great place to make small talk and build better relationships with coworkers, clients and other acquaintances. Focus on topics that lead to sharing comment interests, goals and experiences and you’ll have plenty to talk about. For more conversation faux pas to avoid, read the entire article “Talk Smart at the Holiday Office Party” by Don Gabor in the December 2009 issue of Toastmaster Magazine using the link here.
Do you have any holiday party conversation tips? Share them in the comment box below.
Stephanie Kirschner, CDFA is the SDA National Executive Director.