How to avoid holiday etiquette gaffes at work
Calling in sick the day before or after the holiday. Colds and flu seem to be awfully common before or after a three-day weekend. Hmmm. If you're contemplating flying back after a holiday trip on a Monday instead of a Sunday night to save money, do yourself a favor and clear it with your manager first. Calling in sick to extend your holiday by an extra day won't fool anyone and will come back to bite you. It's about as transparent as the dog-ate-my-homework excuse.
Bringing presents for just your favorite coworkers. No matter how old, mature and evolved we think we are, we all feel a twinge of envy when we notice that a coworker has gotten presents and we haven't. It's human nature. There's etiquette protocol to follow for office gift giving, but here are a couple of pointers. It's OK to give small gifts to those who serve you on a regular basis, such as the receptionist or your assistant, for example. But if you want to give gifts to others in the office, do it in private.
Posting inappropriate photos from parties on Facebook or Instagram. Do you really want your boss to see you doing Jell-O shooters with Mrs. Claus? The problem with social media is that you don't know who's reading about your weekend antics and what opinion they'll form about you once they do. If you just can't resist sending your friends pics of your revelry, use Snapchat. The image disappears after 10 seconds, too fast for your boss to see it.
Getting wasted at the company office party. It's fun to unwind and show a more relaxed side of your personality at the office party. If you've got a great Patsy Cline number, by all means take a turn at the karaoke machine. But keep in mind that any behavior that's scandalous, sloppy or disrespectful will not be forgotten Monday morning. Your coworkers will be snickering about it for years to come. Pour nonalcoholic punch into a wine glass and use the party as an opportunity to network with higher-ups.
Forgetting to tip the service people in your office. There are people in your building who make your job easier on a daily basis. These might include the doorman, mailroom guy or after-hours cleaner. Give them cash in a pretty envelope accompanied by a heartfelt, written message of appreciation. These people often make minimum wage or close to it, and a $20 bill goes a lot farther than a pair of gloves or Starbucks gift card. Moreover, they'll be more willing to help you out the other 11 months of the year.
Throwing a private holiday party and talking about it at work. It's just not cool to talk about that cocktail party you're having to which only a few of your coworkers are invited. If you're having a holiday get-together, ask your workplace friends to please not discuss it during workplace hours. Hurt feelings can affect workplace relationships and could even potentially jeopardize your job or promotion down the road.
Advertising your personal religious beliefs to excess. When people get into the holiday spirit, it's not uncommon to see a reindeer brooch pinned to a lapel or Hanukkah cards splayed out on a desk. But if your cubicle is starting to resemble Santa's workshop, complete with fake snow, a Nativity crèche and flashing lights on a tiny tree, you've stepped over the good etiquette line. Not everyone feels cheery about the holidays--especially those who are not religious. Keep your tinsel for the tree at home.
Participating in the end-of-year rumor mill. Nasty gossip, vicious during any season, has a particularly barbed ring to it during the holidays. This is especially true at the end of the year when a lot of companies make layoff decisions or give holiday bonuses. Have you heard through the grapevine that your company is merging or purging? Are you wondering who got the biggest and smallest bonuses? Time to keep your lips zipped. Don't let idle rumors mushroom into bad morale and self-fulfilling prophecies.
Vicky Oliver writes books on job-hunting and job-interview questions, business etiquette, frugalista style, advertising and office politics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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