It’s me. I’m THAT guy. The one that went to the office Christmas party, ignored your “Do’s and Don’t’s” article and despite my usually better judgment, got trollied and am now at home slobbing out in my underpants with full on raging beer fear.
I can remember snippets of the party which is enough to know I’m justified in being worried about going back to work, but I don’t remember enough to know how sorry I should be and whether I’ll have won an all expenses paid trip to the HR office for “a nice conversation”. Halp!
Ohhhhhh, mate! Grab a large bottle or glass of tepid water and any food you can stomach. Hangovers are the playground of the dehydrated but if you drink cold water on an empty stomach it could make you be sick and you’ll need to be in tip top shape to tackle your grub for brain food to chase away your beer fear and present your best listening ears for our next advice. Sh!t’s about to get real and you’re going to have to stop slobbing out in your undies, put your big boys pants on and man up hard. Let’s do this!
Ok, you’re going to have to take control of the whole situation and own your behaviour and whatever you did. But, Paragon, I hear you cry, I don’t know exactly what I did.
First things first, fire up the old faceyb and have a quick skeet at all the profiles, photos and status updates from everyone who went to the office do to check for any evidence of misdeeds.
Phone a friend
If that detective work turns up empty, don’t think you’ve gotten away with or are just remembering things differently. You need to take a leaf out of the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” playbook and phone a friend. You must have been hanging around with one particular work colleague or group of peers at the office bash so you’ll need to get them on the dog and bone to give you a blow by blow account of how the office party went down. Forewarned is forearmed.
Put on a brave face
When you go into the office next, you need to be three things. Sober, professional and humble. There’s no point putting it off. Not knowing how you’ve been perceived and what will happen is worse than actually dealing with it. Rip the bandaid off and up and at ‘em, solider!
Your workmates are probably going to be talking about that night and what you did will also probably come up in the very unlikely event that someone else has totally upstaged your shenanigans to the point where you’ve been forgotten. This is where your sense of humour will need to come into play. Above all laugh at yourself and what you did at the office shindig and make it clear that the person that made the starring appearance at their works thing (that’s now you, btw), isn’t the real you and there won’t ever be a repeat occurrence.
Don’t go into excuses. Nobody cares why it happened and nobody will believe you if you make out your drink was spiked either. Aside from that, don’t join in the conversation dissing anyone else and their bad choices during the party, just crack on with your work. We’re not suggesting you live as a hermit in the office and become about as personable as the printer with a paper jam in tray one, we just don’t recommend that you enable the rest of the staff to keep the topic alive and kicking.
An eye for an eye
Treat others as you want to be treated. If you don’t want work colleagues gossiping about your embarrassing antics, don’t broadcast theirs. It’s for that exact same reason you shouldn’t send a blanket apology via email to everyone in the office global address book, either. Don’t give anyone who didn’t know, something to talk about. Getting on with your work, backs up your statement that your behaviour was a one-off occurrence and maintains a professional appearance. After all, you’re at work to get the job done, right?
Face the music
If you have done anything to personally offend anyone, be that anyone that you work with at any level in the business, clients that were invited or even partners of office staff, you will need to make a sincere apology to them. We’d recommend giving them a “sorry” card with a handwritten, heartfelt message inside. Don’t overegg the pudding and give a gift too. No crappy sad petrol station bunches of flowers, just the card. You’re making an apology not trying to appear like you’re buying their silence and forgiveness.
An email doesn’t convey the same level of thought and it’s best not to have any record of that type of thing on the workplace systems after all. Seriously though, before you apologise, make sure you’re apologising for something you’ve actually done and that offence has been caused. You don’t want to send a card and then find out the recipient has no idea what you’re on about. This is why we suggested that you get the lowdown from a trusted colleague first.
HR – don’t be scared
If worst comes to the worst and HR do you call you in, then you can explain that you’re aware of your behaviour, you’re mortified with yourself and have taken steps to make amends. This should bode well for you because it shows that you are genuinely sorry for what has happened and value your position in the company enough to try and fix it.
If this doesn’t soften their approach, turn the situation back on them and ask them what you can do to make things right. Their response should make it clear at this point whether disciplinary action will be taken or not. Whatever happens next, at least you have a clear conscience and a very good idea of what your New Year’s Resolution should be.
Good luck and season’s greetings!