6 tips for surviving your office party

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A good rule of thumb: Everything you do or say at the office party should be ble to pass the "light of day" test.

WHAT NOT TO SAY

Avoid these conversation minefields from author Andrew Sobel:

You look great in that dress. Never discuss appearances. "Unless you know the other person very well, do not make remarks or give compliments to a member of the opposite sex about their appearance or dress," cautions Sobel.

How's the divorce going? "Don't ask someone who isn't a pretty close friend about intimate personal details," says Sobel. "A general question like 'Do you have a family?' is okay, but not questions about girlfriends or boyfriends, divorce, dating, romance, sex, and so on."

What's really bothering me is..... Avoid alcohol-inspired revelations. "Don't have a few drinks and then confront someone abruptly with your pent-up emotions," advises Sobel.

Before you speak or act, try to apply the "'light of day' test to your behavior," says Sobel.

"If someone reported your conversation and behavior the next day to your boss, your family, or a client, would you be embarrassed in any way? How would they feel about pictures or videos of those moments if they were posted on Facebook?"

It's that very special time of the year when many Americans are receiving invitations to their

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Avoid holiday headaches with these 7 tips

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annual office holiday party. Parties with co-workers can be fun, or traumatizing.

Office parties need not bring moments of dread or regret, says Andrew Sobel, coauthor along with Jerold Panas of Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others (Wiley, February 2012, ISBN: 978-1-1181196-3-1, $22.95). With the right approach, your office holiday party can provide a great opportunity to build relationships in your company.

"At the office holiday party, new relationships can be formed but they can also be ruined before they even have a chance to blossom," says Sobel.

Here are some tips for making the most of your office party:

1. Drink lightly, or not at all. "Alcohol makes your inhibitions and common sense come tumbling down," Sobel points out, which is exactly the wrong way to behave around co-workers.

2. Don't worry about being clever. Go prepared to ask thoughtful questions. Lots of them. The way to endear yourself to colleagues-and to get noticed by senior management-isn't to talk more about yourself and your plans; it's to ask engaging and inspiring questions.

3. Get to know someone better. As Sobel shows in his book, the most underutilized strategy for building relationships is asking power questions. These are questions that get to the heart of the issue. They help you engage with others more deeply. They uncover people's passions. They give people new perspectives on their challenges. Power questions, at the most basic level, enable you to get to know others more deeply and ensure that you're talking about meaningful issues.

4. Talk about work, but don't gossip. Ask thought-provoking questions about how your colleagues feel about and experience their work. A few options:

* What was your best day and worst day at work during this past year?

* What was the most fulfilling experience you had this year?

* How did you get your start? (This is an especially good question to ask your boss or a senior leader in your organization. It's a simple but powerful way to draw someone out).

5. Dig a little deeper. If your casual conversation keeps going, no need to fidget and make up an excuse to leave. Ask the person about their favorite movie, book or sports team, or:

* So what's on your agenda in your work for next year? Any particular projects or initiatives you're focused on?

* If you had won the Powerball, what would you do?

6. More conversation extenders:

* So, when you're not shaking things up at the office, how do you like to spend your time?

* When you were younger, how did your family spend the holidays? What are your plans this year?

* If you hadn't gone into (business, law, banking, medicine, teaching, etc.), what do you think you might have done?

* Where did you grow up? What was that like?

" When you arrive with a few power questions ready to go," says Sobel, "you can make the event not only enjoyable but you can turn it into a valuable relationship-building night that could benefit you for a long time to come."

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About Andrew Sobel:
Andrew Sobel is the most widely published author in the world on client loyalty and the capabilities required to build trusted business relationships. His first book, the bestselling Clients for Life, defined an entire genre of business literature about client loyalty. In addition to Power Questions, his other books include Making Rain and the award-winning All for One: 10 Strategies for Building Trusted Client Partnerships