Have you ever been to an office party that got out of hand?
Most of us have. It’s not a comfortable position to be in, is it? And as a Christian, it can be hard to find the right balance for handling such situations. Do you avoid parties and happy hours altogether? Are you obligated to intercede if it seems like things are getting out of hand? What about guidelines when you’re traveling for work with a male colleague? How do you establish healthy boundaries?
There are ways to socialize with grace and integrity, without compromising your values or alienating colleagues by appearing to be judgmental.
Socializing with coworkers is a good thing. Spending time with colleagues outside of work can be a great way to get to know them personally and to build relationships. It also establishes trust, which tends to improve workplace morale and can greatly impact the quality and efficiency of work being done.
Draw some healthy, non-judgmental boundaries. There is real value to be had in joining social activities, but that value can be undermined if you appear to be conspicuously passing judgment about your co-worker’s choices. Don’t do anything that goes against your morals or integrity, but don’t take offense or express surprise if others don’t share your standards. In fact, it’s safe to assume that many won’t.
You have an opportunity to be an example here. If you plan to drink alcohol, stop after one drink. If you sense that things are getting out of hand, go ahead and leave early. Just do so in a positive manner, not a negative one.
When traveling alone with male colleagues, end the night early and keep conversation light. It’s perfectly appropriate to share a meal in a public restaurant with a male coworker or drop by a group gathering at the hotel bar, but it would be foolish not to establish clear personal boundaries and stick to them.
If you’re married, it’s not a bad idea to share these boundaries with your husband and invite his input. My basic rules are that I’m in my own room no later than 10:00 pm every night, and I don’t engage in any deep personal conversations. Simple guidelines like this help me avoid potentially compromising situations, and they help avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
What about you? Have you been to an office party that got out of hand? What’s your advice for fun, honorable socializing with coworkers?