Office Party Behaviors

How to deal with five common offenders at your office holiday gathering, with insights and advice from our expert panel.

By Tim Murphy


The Close Talker

She’s so close you can smell the canapés on her breath. Taylor: “You inch back slowly, and they inch forward. Wave your hand and say, ‘Isn’t it warm in here?’ ” Sutton: “It’s cultural. I’m Jewish, and I used to chase my WASPy mother-in-law around the living room doing this.” Baptista: “Say you have an earache and you can hear better if they step back.”

The Workaholic

He corners you to discuss next year’s Q1 projections. Taylor: “Model appropriate behavior: ‘That project’s under control. Say, what do you think of the music?’ ” Sutton: “We hire and fire people based on performance, then get upset when they can’t relax. Try: ‘This is a party. Do we have to do this now?’ ” Baptista: “Try a group song like YMCA.

The Inappropriate Sexual Remarker

“You’re sure filling out that cocktail dress nicely, Bethanny.” Taylor: “They think this is their opportunity to pounce. Politely smile and excuse yourself.” Sutton: “Treat suggestive remarks like they don’t exist, unless they keep it up. Then walk away.” Baptista: “Suggest a festive holiday song or a Grease medley.”

The Liquor-Fueled Lovefester

“I love you so much, I think you’re awesome!” Taylor: “Try: ‘I think you’re great, too. Have you tried the snacks?’ ” Sutton: “Sometimes socially inept people lose control. The more powerful, the more prone they are to this behavior.” Baptista: “If they’re weepy, don’t play mushy songs like Butterfly Kisses.

The Drunk, Angry Spouse

“Hey, didn’t you say something to my wife 18 months ago about a raise?” Taylor: “They think they’re helping their spouse when they’re doing them a disservice. If your partner is high-risk, you’re better off going alone.” Baptista: “Defuse with a feel-good song like Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO.

*Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job; Robert Sutton, author of The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t; and Ray Baptista, manager of New York Karaoke Rentals


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