How Can I Fix This? I Made an Ass of Myself at the Office Party Last Night!
An “advicesisters” reader writes: At our annual office party, I guess I shouldn’t have started drinking because I can’t seem to stop after just one. So I can’t remember exactly what I did, but I know that I drank too much, danced kind of crazy, and I think I got kinda cozy with a couple of my colleagues (including my boss). I feel pretty crappy today and I am sure that I made a big ass of myself. How am I going to fix this? I was up for a promotion, but now that I made such an ass of myself will anyone take me seriously? Yeah, I’m regretting it, but now I really could use some impartial advice.
Alison Answers: This is such a classic letter and I’ve answered it many times on many different advice columns. So my first bit of advice to you is to just take a deep breath and consider!
Yes, take a deep breath and two steps back, and don’t panic.
You aren’t the first and won’t be the last person who has had a lapse in judgment had guzzled a few “too many” at an office function (or frankly, any party) and then ended up wishing they hadn’t.
The problem you have now, along with your regrets and aching head, is that you got relaxed and “happy” at an office party, assuming that it really was a party, like any other.
It’s Not Really A Party
Office parties are work functions, with the emphasis on work.
It doesn’t matter how wild and crazy you are encouraged to be by co-workers, hosts or even your boss, you can’t ever really forget that you are on the job and on view, and although I hate to say this, there is still a double standard for women, especially if they are young and trying to move up the career ladder.
If you want to be taken seriously, you have to stay in control while appearing to have a fabulous time. The trick is to balance maintaining professional behavior with the appearance that you’re having a good time, so you won’t look like a stick in the mud. No one said it was easy, but it is possible.
Reading your letter (which I edited heavily for privacy), for you, alcohol is kryptonite especially at office functions but also at any party, since you can’t seem to stop at just one. And ONE will become two, and three, and before long you’re doing the bunny hop with your shirt unbuttoned to your waist!
Save yourself next time by ordering tonic water which looks like vodka, or ask for cranberry juice which could possibly contain vodka (you get the idea).
For the person who is shy or nervous a drink can perhaps take the edge off the angst of being in a social situation, but remember what I said about this being a work function? So if you are going to drink, at least make it something you can’t guzzle quickly. Get something you have to sip such as a straight scotch and hold onto that one drink as long as possible.
I’ll Have HALF!
Another strategy is to tip the bartender and tell him or her you to give you only half of what they’d normally pour in your drinks. You will still be “drinking,” just not as much. Have a glass of water after every glass of alcohol you consume as well. If someone absolutely insists on getting you a drink you can try the “I am on medication or on a diet” excuse. but if you don’t want to go that route, just order that scotch (or something you really don’t like so you wont’ drink it) and “nurse it” or put it down on a cocktail table and simply “lose it” when they walk away.
It may not seem like this is as much fun as getting wasted, but trust me: there is a unique reward for you: that of being able to watch the fun as your co-workers act like lunatics as you stay sober enough to appreciate how stupid they look!
Smile for my Camera!
Now, as to your worries over making an ass of yourself. I know you think all eyes were on you, and maybe they were, but maybe they weren’t.
Office parties are legendary for making even the most sedate employees bust out and get crazy. In this era of “selfies” and social media, we often attribute way too much importance to ourselves.
I am willing to bet that you weren’t the only acting like a crazed monkey. In this age of social media, most people were probabaly more into taking photos of themselves to put on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook that they weren’t eyeing you so closely.
The chances are that if they noticed anything they just thought you were having fun and they probably had a few too many themselves and don’t remember what they did last night, let along what you were up to!
Deny? Justify? What Now?
So what should you do now? In a word: nothing!
If you call attention to your actions by bringing it up you only call more unwanted attention and add fuel to the very thing you want to let die.
If someone brings it up just laugh it off and say it was a great party, wasn’t it? Then shut up and go back to work. That’s what all of you are at the office for now that the party is over.
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