The annual company holiday party – an event not to be taken lightly, especially for young and new employees. It’s important to attend so that your managers know you take the company culture and being part of a team seriously.
You created a plan so that you wouldn’t end up damaging your reputation, but alas, the holiday party got the best of you.You had carefully selected your outfit, resolved to monitor your alcohol consumption, and intended to avoid any heated conversations with coworkers. You refused to be “the one” who gets too drunk, makes inappropriate comments or throws up in a paper shredder, but unfortunately, despite your best efforts, you end up being the one who humiliated themselves in front of the entire team.
Embarrassing yourself is an awful thing to experience, but since we are all human, it’s bound to happen at one point or another. Whether it be a few small faux-pas or a massive blunder, there are several steps you can take to lessen the blow to your reputation.
1) Show up the next day. Or on Monday. Whichever comes first.
Depending on which day of the week the party is, your next interaction with your coworkers will range in a level of unpleasantness. The only thing worse than showing your face around the office the day after making a fool of yourself is not showing your face. Taking the day off will only fuel the rumor mill and draw more attention to whatever your actions were the night before. It could also come with some serious ramifications from your boss because they will know you’re nursing your hangover and ditching your responsibilities. Arrive on time, appropriately dressed, without any signs of being hungover. Do whatever it takes to get yourself into work-mode, even if that means spending more than usual at Starbucks on your way into the office.
2) Do social media damage control
Clean up your Snapchat story, delete any unflattering pictures or posts and make sure you didn’t send inappropriate messages to anyone. Making sure that people don’t have content to scroll through and replay is crucial when trying to make everyone forget and forgive your mishaps. Destroy the online evidence, but don’t forget that you need to acknowledge your faults in the real world.
3) Give apologies where they are due
If your memory regarding the details of the party isn’t so good, it’s a good idea to chat with someone you trust in the office to understand the extent of your misbehavior. From there, figure out a recovery plan, and apologize to those who deserve it. Be sincere, make eye contact with people if delivering the apology in person, or make sure to be thoughtful if sending an email.
Being verbal and expressing your remorse is difficult. Approaching different individuals in order to do so forces you to mentally relive your wrongdoings, which isn’t fun, but it is the best way to deal with major screw ups. Don’t wait for your boss to come over to you, promptly get that painful conversation out of the way, and don’t get defensive if they want to talk about it or become confrontational. Stay calm, and listen to them, and remain apologetic.
4) But don’t grovel
Sometimes, being overly apologetic and too detailed only rubs salt in the wounds and draws more attention to your misdoings. Keep it brief and vague, don’t delve into details when apologizing, and don’t give the sort of apology that attempts to “explain” why you acted the way you did. Say you’re sorry and leave it at that. Hopefully, whoever you wronged will accept it and then you can move forward with your professional relationship.
And when all else fails…
5) Read other people’s embarrassing stories from their holiday parties to make yourself feel better
Sometimes, the only way you can make yourself feel better is to soothe yourself with stories of people who did worse than you. If your mistakes cost you your job or hurt your reputation to the point where you’ll excuse yourself, this can be a good way to make yourself feel better in the short-term while you start your job search. If you didn’t get the ax, just try to stay calm and keep working hard. Some other drama will arise in the office, leaving everyone to move on to the next hot topic, and leave the memories of your holiday party embarrassment in the past. At future events, abstain from drinking too much (or maybe even at all) and act in a professional manner, letting someone else earn the title of party clown instead of you.
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