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Office holiday parties are a great time to unwind and have fun with your colleagues.
That being said, you don’t want to get carried away. We’ve all heard horror stories about out-of-control festivities. Things like flirting with your boss, picking fights with your rival, and gossiping about the CEO are all clearly to be avoided.
However, the worst subject is probably also one of the most boring.
According to many of professionals Business Insider spoke to about office holiday party blunders, the answer is one of the only things you likely 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,” saysJoe Weinlick, senior vice president at career network Beyond.
It’s important for bosses to set the tone in order 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 says.
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,” SAP software company executive vice president of HR Brigette McInnis-Day says. “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.
But what if you really have nothing to talk about with your coworkers other than work? Well, it wouldn’t hurt to try 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,” LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher.