Daily Court Reporter - News Thinkin' about skipping the office party? - Think again, business etiquette maven says
Thinkin' about skipping the office party? - Think again, business etiquette maven says
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
Even in the laid-back corporate settings most associated with startups and small companies, there is etiquette to be observed and adhered to.
As such, once Thanksgiving is in the books and the extended dash through the holiday season begins in earnest, there's a whole other set of rules introduced to the workplace.
Questions, such as, "Am I allowed to buy a work associate who also is a friend a gift? Can I get away with passing on the holiday office party?" and "Is an e-card just as good as a Hallmark original?," run through the brains of new hires, as well as vested employees.
The American Management Association, which specializes in professional development, interviewed business etiquette guru and author Lydia Ramsey about pitfalls that loom during the holiday season
Ramsey said just as attendance at work is mandatory, so is attendance at the office Christmas party.
"Don't even consider not going unless you have a justifiable conflict," she said. "Show up, even if the thought of spending your precious off hours with co-workers and colleagues is less than appealing."
Think of the party as part of the job, she said.
"Its purpose is to bring together co-workers for a bit of camaraderie," Ramsey continued. "If this is not your idea of a great time, then just consider it work, put on your best attitude and go.
"Consider the holiday office party to be a career development opportunity. Your attitude and your behavior will affect your future success, so make the most of the occasion and the chance to promote yourself professionally."
Another pro tip: Make sure to speak to the boss, when you arrive and as you leave, she said.
Because most employees spend nearly as much or more time with their coworkers than their families, friendships often flourish in the workplace. Along those lines, AMA asked Ramsey if its OK to give special gifts to just a few close colleagues and not everyone.
This sort of gift-giving is completely acceptable, she said.
"Give your gift at a time and place away from the office and your other co-workers," Ramsey added.
What about sending cards to business contacts, AMA asked.
"There are four obvious reasons to send holiday greetings:
• To enhance your current business relationships;
• To attract new customers;
• To remind previous clients that you exist; and
• To show appreciation to those who are faithful supporters of you and your business," she said. "However, what is intended as a thoughtful act can offend the very people you want to impress when you don't do it correctly."
Ramsey advised card senders choose a quality card that demonstrates the value of clients and colleagues. Address and sign each card personally and write a short note. Be sensitive to religious beliefs and cultural celebrations. And, resist the urge to send the family letter and photos to purely business associates.
"They probably are not interested in your summer vacation, Aunt Martha's visit, or how high your son scored on his SATs," she quipped.
E-cards are OK, Ramsey said, but they are not as effective as those sent by mail.
"The recipient will click on the URL, download the card, open it, read it, smile, close it and - in all probability - delete it," she said. "Also, consider that your electronic card may never be opened, as some people are understandably reluctant to open attachments for fear of computer viruses."
E-cards are fine for friends and family, but she cautioned employees to be selective about sending them to business associates.
"You always want to be professional and appropriate in the workplace so consider the person, the message, and your purpose when you make your decision about paper or electronic," Ramsey said.
Date Published: December 18, 2018