•Business Insider spoke with experts who stressed the importance of avoiding work-related talk at the holiday party.
• They say the holiday party is an opportunity to allow everyone to relax and unwind.
• If you’re looking for other things to talk about, try researching your coworkers’ LinkedIn accounts.
Office holiday parties are a great time to unwind and have fun with your colleagues.
It’s important to remember that you’re still at work, though. It goes without saying that controversial or inappropriate topics are best avoided. But one of the worst subjects you can tackle is probably also one of the most boring.
According to many of the professionals Business Insider spoke with about office holiday party blunders, you should steer clear of one of the few things you’re likely to have in common with your coworkers: work.
The reason? People are looking to let loose. They don’t want to hear about looming deadlines and issues with projects.
“The holiday party should be a fun event free from the stress of the job. Save shop talk for when you’re back in the office,” Joe Weinlick, the senior vice president at the career network Beyond, told Business Insider.
It’s important for bosses to set the tone to ensure a relaxed, enjoyable environment, according to Maestro Health CEO Rob Butler. “Encourage your employees to turn off ‘work-mode’ and learn about their coworkers’ passions and hobbies,” he told Business Insider.
And even if you have no intention of talking deadlines, make sure your date doesn’t, either.
“Oftentimes, I find that employees’ spouses or partners will ask me about opportunities for advancement or raise issues of concern at a holiday party,” Brigette McInnis-Day, the executive vice president of human resources at the software company SAP, told Business Insider. “For example they’ll ask about bonus achievements, stock options success, reorganization, or if their loved one will get a new opportunity they applied for and if they didn’t get it, give feedback on how displeased they are.”
This just makes things awkward for everyone. If you’re worried that your plus-one will pull this, try talking to them beforehand.
And, if you really have nothing to talk about with your coworkers other than work, make an effort to learn more about them.
“If small talk isn’t your strong suit, feel free to look up your colleagues’ recent activity on LinkedIn for potential topics of conversation,” the LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher said.