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HOW TO SOCIALISE WITH COLLEAGUES

'Tis the season of the office Christmas party: A often-dreaded time of year that means awkward conversations with your tipsy boss and enforced merriment with people you might normally cross the road to avoid seeing outside of work. If you've got a festive celebration looming (and even if you haven't; professional socialising demands can hit you at any time of year), here's a short survival guide to seeing it out in style.

DON'T GET DRUNK

This is an obvious starting point. There's a time and place for knocking back six tequila shots in a row, and your annual holiday party is not it. Even if you work in a liberal professional environment, getting messy-drunk around colleagues is always a bad idea...Your best work buddy might not be judging you, but your boss is probably raising an eyebrow, at best. Stick to two or three drinks depending on how much food is involved and sip a soft drink between rounds, no matter how tedious the evening becomes.

DON'T BE A SNOB

It's easy to rock up at your work party wearing an air of disdain (as if you don't have better things to do with your time...) but try to shrug it off before you walk in: your snobbery will be apparent and unappreciated. Everyone likes a team player, so try to engage in the festivities as much as possible, even if your enthusiasm for them is totally fake.

PLAN YOUR EXIT STRATEGY

Before you arrive, think about how you are going to a) extract yourself from any annoying/awkward conversations you might find yourself in and b) leave the party entirely, once your willpower for avoiding the free bar begins to wain. For the former situation, simply excusing yourself to go to the bathroom, or offering to get your dull conversation partner a fresh drink will usually do the job. For the latter, try to stick to a pre-planned alcohol allowance, or even set an alarm as a reminder that it's time to go.

TALK TO SOMEONE NEW...

It's tricky to bond with colleagues, so make use of the liberating effect of a non-work setting to approach someone you never normally talk to - be it because that person works on a different team, or simply because he or she intimidates you - and make the effort to get to know them a little better. You never know how you might be able to scratch each other's backs later down the line.

...BUT NOT ABOUT WORK

The whole point of Christmas celebrations is to hang out with people you spend a large chunk of your life with in a non-stressful environment. While it might be tempting to use your boss' newly-warm (read: drunk) manner to pitch an idea or even *shudder* ask for a promotion, this is a massive faux pas. Whether your colleagues are your best friends or mere professional acquaintances, the festive season is a time to be just that: festive. Avoid work chat - especially any Prosecco-induced bitching about co-workers - and try to enjoy yourself as much as possible. The bill is on the company credit card, after all.