We’ve all heard stories about the employee who embarrassed herself at the company’s holiday work party — or acted so inappropriately that later, she was fired. To avoid those kinds of missteps that negatively impact your reputation, consider the following suggestions at your employer’s holiday soiree this year.
- Go easy on the libations. Yes, free drinks are nice, but your holiday work party is not the time to let your hair down and get tipsy. Limit yourself to one or two drinks so you don’t accidentally lose your inhibitions and say or do something you’ll regret later.
- Dress appropriately. Ask HR about the party dress code, then stick to it. Be cautious if evening wear is encouraged; it’s seldom (if ever) OK to wear revealing clothing around co-workers.
- Participate. You’re not alone if you’re not exactly enthused about showing up to your holiday work party; one survey last year found 90 percent of U.S. employees would prefer a bonus or extra vacation days. In most cases, however, you should consider company parties to be part of your job if you wish to be considered the ever-important “team player.”
- Mix and mingle. Rather than clinging to chums, take the opportunity to get to know co-workers with whom you’re somewhat unfamiliar. You may be pleasantly surprised, and it will make your workplace interactions that much more comfortable.
- Be a great conversationalist. Avoid controversial subjects but do come equipped with a few other ideas of what to discuss — holiday plans, progress on gift shopping, favorite holiday memories, and favorite recipes, etc. Remember most people are flattered when you ask them about themselves, their backgrounds, their families and their outside interests.
- Use your best manners. The way you act in mixed company is part of the persona company execs may evaluate when considering you for a promotion. At any company party, it’s important to thank waitstaff, avoid taking more than your share of refreshments, use napkins, avoid chewing with your mouth open, etc.
- Have an attitude of gratitude. Instead of taking your holiday work party for granted, remember to thank both the planners and the execs who approved the expense. Such events can be time-consuming, stressful and costly to plan.
- Hide your inner Grinch. Politely clap and cheer for anyone else who wins an award, even if you secretly believe it to be undeserved.
Are you one of the thousands, perhaps millions, enacting your annual plan to drop those pesky 20 pounds as a New Year’s resolution? Maybe you’ve vowed to finally join a gym, pursue that new job, lose that bad relationship, earn that advanced degree or move to the city of your dreams.
On the other hand, maybe you’ve given up entirely because of the rather gloomy statistics; supposedly a whopping 80 percent of all New Year’s resolutions are soon discarded like so much crumpled gift wrap.
Of course, those who failed may not have been aware of how science can be applied to your New Year’s resolutions to increase your chances of success. Consider how these techniques may help you implement real behavioral change for the first time.
- Just do it. It is not just a Nike slogan, but Newton’s Law tells us what’s in motion tends to stay in motion. You may have to start really, really small to make yourself take that first step toward behavioral change.
- Schedule it. Instead of having a vague mental scheme, pull up your planner, establish sub-goals and adjust your schedule to make room for actions you must take.
- Simplify everything. Cut out complexities; for example, plan how you’ll have healthy food ready to eat if you’re frequently waylaid by after-work hunger and exhaustion.
- Build in rewards. Even little things work as positive reinforcement for behavioral change, concludes a study in Harvard Business Review.
- Shut up that inner voice. Because negative thoughts can eventually change neural connections in our brains, we must effectively counter them, reports Melanie Greenberg in Psychology Today.
- Lose the all-or-nothing attitude. If you fall off the wagon, give yourself at least a day to bounce back without repercussion.
- Be patient. Remember it takes an average 66 days to establish permanent behavioral change with a new habit.
- Plan for your triggers. Understand what pushes your buttons and why so you can better handle the feelings that result, advises Marcia Reynolds in Psychology Today.
- See sidesteps as research. “It’s not failure, it’s data — information you can learn from to make positive changes,” writes Elizabeth Lombardo in Psychology Today.
As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail. Think through your next New Year’s resolution to improve your chances of long-lasting behavioral change.
The life of an entrepreneur – or at least the idea behind that life – can seem enticing to just about everyone. You launch a new enterprise that makes millions – and maybe even changes the way people lead their lives. But why do some people follow through on such visions with great fanfare and success, while others fail miserably – or never follow through at all?
“There’s just this mindset that the very best entrepreneurs have that positions them for success when others around them are struggling and unable to stay the course,” says Peter J. Strauss (www.peterjstrauss.com), an attorney, entrepreneur and author of the upcoming book The Accidental Life.
Strauss says that anyone who is feeling the entrepreneurial tug, and wants to mimic the most successful entrepreneurs, would do well to consider these three points:
- Remember that fortune favors the bold. On the outside entrepreneurs may appear confident and assured in their actions, ready to take the steps needed to achieve success without hesitation. In reality, Strauss says, most successful entrepreneurs have a voice inside them imploring them to wait, to not take that chance. The difference between them and others is they ignore that inner voice. “In my career, I tried to prepare myself as best I could for my next step, but I always had to take a leap of faith to some degree,” Strauss says. “There’s never going to be perfect time or situation that is a guaranteed win. For any significant opportunity, there is always a risk.”
- Take the “life gives you lemons” approach. Things don’t always work out the way we hope, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept defeat. Strauss points out that Steve Jobs was once fired by the board of the company he founded. “Steve Jobs easily could have decided that his life as an entrepreneur was not meant to be,” Strauss says. “Instead, he built another company and eventually found himself back at the helm of Apple. Jobs knew that whatever happened, his was not going to be a story of failure.” It’s inevitable that life will throw you curveballs, he says, so learn to hit them. “The good news is that adaptability can be learned,” Strauss says. “The more you train yourself to see possibility in the curveballs, the more you will adapt to hitting singles, doubles and even home runs.”
- Understand the “family” connection. Businesses often describe their organizations as “family.” Sometimes that’s just lip service, Strauss says, but in the best corporate cultures the team respects one another and holds each other accountable – much like a family. “If you are in a leadership position, it’s up to you to instill this mindset and to be the role model for it in your company,” he says. He even discovered that the business family he created as an entrepreneur helped make him a better parent. “If I don’t set clear goals and expectations at work, I can’t be disappointed or surprised when my team falls short,” he says. “The same holds true at home. Framing expectations as a dialogue will make your family and your team feel valued.”
“Ultimately, no matter the obstacles, entrepreneurs just find a way to persevere and get the job done,” Strauss says. “But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. There are real risks involved. People rarely see all the ins and outs and ups and downs of what it takes to reach a place where you feel real success.”
About Peter J. Strauss
Peter J. Strauss (www.peterjstrauss.com) is an attorney, entrepreneur and author of several books, including the soon-to-be-released The Accidental Life. He is the founder and managing member of The Strauss Law Firm, LLC, on Hilton Head Island, S.C, and also the founder and CEO of Hamilton Captive Management, LLC. He is a graduate of the New England School of Law and of Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management program.