Miss Clark goes to
Washington | A
debt to societies
The life of the party
When it comes
to the office party, do you know how to avoid the social hangover?
By Carmen Goldthwaite
checked and double-checked yourself in the mirror. But you're still nervous.
annual "Holiday Office Party." Is it a party? Or is it work?
said Gay Wakefield '74 (MS '75), director of TCU's 12-year-old Center
for Professional Communication, the first center of its kind in the nation.
though it's a party, people are still making judgments about you. People
say and do things that reflect on their decision-making ability and indicate
how they might act with a client in a similar setting," said Wakefield,
an organizational communication expert who returned to TCU in 1997 after
her only daughter elected to attend TCU.
office parties can create misery, Wakefield shows undergraduate and graduate
students (and Neeley alumni) that knowledge and practice of protocol and
manners smooth away any fear of holiday business hangovers. Instruction
in this "nonverbal communication" filters through seminars and
workshops in the Center.
its "high-tech" quarters, students can enroll in a communication
diagnostics and certification program designed by Wakefield and unavailable
elsewhere. Workshops cover a landscape of business situations, including
"NETiquette and other Communication Minefields," "Building
Cultural Bridges" and "Danger Zone: (Mis) Perceptions."
slip manners and etiquette in the backdoor at our workshops. After all,
we communicate by how we handle ourselves; manners communicate,"
Wakefield said. "Sometimes without employees knowing it, holiday
functions are viewed by management as an opportunity to see how people
will react in a more relaxed situation. Particularly if that's the case
and you don't know it, the higher-ups generally aren't doing much drinking
but are doing a whole lot of watching and listening."
biz school's communication hub stems from M. J. Neeley's vision and endowment.
And when it comes to good communication, Wakefield quotes Neeley's long-standing
have to know how to communicate from the heart -- with their employees
and their customers -- to succeed." Wakefield adds that if people
are aware of what they communicate "non-verbally" with manners
-- and practice listening, presentation and leadership tactics -- then
they are free to "communicate from the heart."
is part of the game, like it or not," she said. "So while what
you may be doing at a particular gathering is not all that egregious,
it's not all that professional, either. And people don't forget about
it when they come to work on Monday."
office party survival guides
listen to others' wagging tongues, but don't let yours start wagging
talk shop ... change the subject ... people are there for a good time.
DO practice manners until they become habitual. Then your attention
can focus on people and conversations.
partake if liquor is being served; get a Sprite, drop a cherry in
DO network -- get to know individuals on another level, their interests.
go empty-headed. Bone up for chit-chat, know what's going on in local
sports, entertainment and culture.
get a mentor to let you know what is expected. Protocol differs among
companies, regions and countries.
DON'T wait for others to take the lead. Play host and make those around
you comfortable; help others look good.