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So, You Misbehaved at Your Office Holiday Party: What To Do Next?

HR Operations


December 2, 2019

August 26, 2020

Everyone knows that office Christmas parties aren't all fun and games. They can be tricky as well. The combination of alcohol and end-of-the-year jolly makes it easy for all of us to get a little carried away sometimes. But what if you’ve gone overboard? Well, that's where we come in. We’re here to help. 

You wake up. A pounding headache, a dirt dry mouth, and a vague but inescapable sense of shame. After reading your text messages, all from coworkers asking if you’re okay, there is no doubt in your mind left: you definitely drank too much at last night's office party. And yes, you probably did or said something dumb. 

Here’s the good news: waking up is the worst part of the walk of shame that you’re about to face. So, as much as you would probably want to, this is not the time to stay in bed and hide under the pillows. Yes, that's right, drag your ass out of bed. There you go. The sooner you start operation damage control, the better. 

Step 1. Figure out what happened 

Alcohol tends to make you forgetful of what you did or said when inebriated. (And no, you probably didn't look as good or sounds as smart as you hoped at the time.)  In some cases that might be a good thing – ignorance is bliss, after all – but in the case of a work-related event, your professional rep might be at stake. (As are the feelings of your colleagues.) Therefore, it’s important to reconstruct what happened that night as thoroughly as possible. Call someone who was there with you – preferably your most trusted colleague – and ask him or her: how bad was it? Was it clumsy in an endearing way or just plain old stupid?

In most cases it wasn’t  as embarrassing as you think. And in the unwelcome event that it’s much worse – well, at least you don’t have to guess anymore. Operation damage control continues.

Step 2. Apologize 

One of the worst things you can do after you’ve gone overboard is to pretend it never happened. That kind of attitude generally comes across as rude or even cruel,  especially in the event you insulted someone. (Which, let's be honest, you did.) Own up to it and offer your sincere apologies for your behavior  – make a joke about it, if the situation permits it. If you have doubts about the appropriateness of that, please leave your sense of humor at the door. Otherwise, you'll have another thing to apologize for tomorrow. Oh, and be careful not to make too big a drama of your mea culpa. You’ll risk coming across as petty. An honest ‘I’m sorry’  usually does the trick. 

Step 3. Don’t be too hard on yourself

Hey, we’ve all been there. That feeling of shame and self-loathing is well known to anyone who’s ever had a few drinks too many. So, hey, it happened. What matters most now, is how you handle your missteps and bounce back from them. Maybe one day you’ll laugh about it – or not – but in the grand scheme of things, this is just a minor glitch. Don’t worry too much about it. And...

Step 4. Don’t make the same mistake twice 

The only thing worse than making a complete fool of yourself at an office party is making the same mistake twice. Next time there’s drinking with coworkers involved, stick to two drinks max to be completely safe. Maybe throw in a joke about last time, remember folks? A bit of a rough edge can make you stand out as a character, but don’t push it. 

All in all, we can safely say: things are probably going to be okay. And if not, you know where to find the bar.

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