Could you be nominated to the Holiday Party Hall of Shame this holiday season? In the spirit of seasonal abandon, and fueled by one too many drinks, men and women often place themselves in compromising positions. Some may raise eyebrows by crossing the boundaries of friendship with inappropriate flirting, soul bearing, or relatively innocuous laughing too loudly or too often. Others may view the company hosted party as the opportunity to show case seductive attire, outlandish dancing style, or record setting trips to the buffet. Unfortunately the next morning in the cold hard light of the office these seemingly harmless adventures and inappropriate behaviors have lost their charm. Professional careers can be tarnished or seriously harmed, and in worst case scenarios individuals are dismissed and remembered forever in office legend. Have fun, but be on your best behaviour.
Schmooze you Lose
You are invited to a networking event, sometimes more aptly named a “Schmooze Fest.” You were told you should aim for at least 25 new business cards per evening. It’s like speed dating, only as a result of this hand-shaking-eye-contacting-card-passing-feeding frenzy, you will have 25 more new contacts. If more contacts means more business your business is sure to grow in leaps and bounds if you keep this up. Right?
Not quite! Networking is not about papering the city with your business cards. Networking is about relationships; developing, maintaining and nurturing relationships and it accounts for approximately 87% of business in the market place today. A handshake, even a good one, eye contact and a thirty-second elevator speech about what YOU do is not likely to get you there. However, quality conversations allow you to get to know more about the other person and build trust and rapport. Trust is the glue that keeps networks together. Without trust, business rarely happens because people want to do business with those they know, like and trust. Ultimately, it is not just who you know, it’s who knows you and what they know about you. What reputation you have earned. Think of networking as farming, not hunting. You plant the seed and then nurture it, work at it, cultivate it and watch it grow. Aim for three or four new contacts. Whew!
HUGS OR HIGH FIVES?
Hugs, kisses, high fives or handshakes? What is the appropriate greeting? As we’ve grown accustomed to mixing business and pleasure, many of us don’t realize that there are actually guidelines for greetings. Sincerity is key and you shouldn’t have to put a lot of thought into a gesture that is simple and spontaneous. Use your common sense and follow these tips:
1. Hugs are not appropriate in a business situation. Have you ever entered a meeting room and felt uncomfortable when someone else is embracing? Where do you look? Are you supposed to join in? Will there be a group hug? However, if your million-dollar client wants to give you a quick hug who are we to judge you?
2. In social settings, if you have any doubt in your mind, do not hug. If you have to think about it first, a hug is probably not heart felt or sincere. A warm smile and an "I am so glad to see you" with a firm hand shake fills in for a hug and makes all of us feel warm and welcome.
3. If you feel you need to hug, do it, but keep in mind the wants, needs and comfort of the person you are hugging. Stepping back is a clue the person doesn’t want a body embrace but leaning forward will indicate that they are coming into your space to accept or initiate a hug.
4. If you sincerely feel the urge to hug and in return get a chilly response it’s not the end of the world, move away, smile and start a conversation.
5. Keep in mind, refusing a handshake is rude. There are probably more germs on the door knob so if you are afraid of germs, retire and wash your hands after shaking.
Although most people are pretty forgiving when it comes to any situation involving babies, the number one etiquette mistake that new moms make has to be those descriptive birthing and labor stories …water breaking, contractions, dilation's, crowning, stitches, sitz baths… fall into the category of “too much information, thanks.” Some new moms are prone to tell everyone the details, from the bus driver to colleagues at work to strangers in the checkout.
Another mistake parents make is in thinking the baby is as entertaining to everyone else as it is to you. The new parents bring the baby to a party and expect everyone to sit around and discuss every gurgle and coo the baby makes, how smart and cute it is who the baby looks like and what it is going to be when it grows up. Unless you are the grandparents or a close relative, recognize most people aren’t as interested as you are
If a bride receives two of the same gift she can easily return one of the gifts. She need not mention to the gift giver that she has returned their gift. If a gift is a one of a kind item, a family heirloom or something hand made by the giver, even if a bride dislikes the gift, she should keep it and cherish the thought that went into it. Always consider the feelings of the gift giver. An unsightly one of a kind item kept and stored in the basement should be put on display if the giver ever happens to visit. Sometimes those unsightly, out of fashion gifts come back into fashion too. Out of consideration for the gift giver it is sometimes wise to hang onto a gift and save it for the Antiques Roadshow or a garage sale sometime in the future. Any thoughts of returning gifts should be coupled with diplomacy. Say nothing.
Engagement and Shower Gifts
If there is a small informal engagement party with close friends and family, gifts are optional. Usually only close relatives or friends would bring a gift just for the bride to the party. The bride would only open the gifts at the party if everyone brought one.
At a large formal engagement party gifts are not expected. If a guest does bring a gift, it would not be opened during the party to avoid embarrassing the others who correctly did not bring a gift.
To prevent overburdening her friends, a bride should consider having no more than two showers. Brides should remember that the more showers your friends have to buy gifts for, the less funds they have available for the main wedding gift.
Shy Mind Reading
A person who lacks confidence often makes assumptions about what he thinks others may be thinking about him. “They won’t like me” or “I don’t think they want to talk to me.” If you are this person, the first question you should ask yourself is, “How did I get to be a mind reader, how do I know what someone is thinking?” There could be many reasons why a person behaves in a certain way. The only way to really verify what someone is thinking is to ask them, so stop negative mind reading at once. If you are going to mind read you might as well replace it with positive mind reading. “They are really going to like me” or “I know they would really like to meet a fun interesting person like me.” Employing this tactic will help you rid yourself of the shyness and fear of rejection that accompanies negative mind reading and make it easier for you to approach people and meet them.