How To Make Small Talk With Your Boss At The Office Party
There are several upsides to an office Christmas party: free food, free booze and maybe even a useful lucky draw gift. Plus, you get to be in the office without having to do any work (or having to act busy).
But that doesn’t mean it’s always fun and games—not when you still have to be mindful of office dynamics. And an office Christmas party (or any office party for that matter) also means mingling with your boss. Want to be able to engage them instead of hanging around them awkwardly? We asked James Choles, Corporate Training Manager at the Professional Development Centre of British Council, for five tips.
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Don’t forget to read our Party Digital Issue for more tips!
1. Ask about their travel plans
“A great thing about this time of year is that almost everyone is going somewhere. And we love to talk about it! So ask your boss how they’re spending Christmas and use this as a chance to connect with them on a more personal level.”
2. Talk about the food or drink
“This is a topic that never fails! Start the conversation with simple questions like:
‘Are you enjoying the food?’
‘Have you tried the mince pies?’
‘What do you think of the wine?’
You can continue the conversation by finding out what your boss usually eats at Christmas, and where they’ll be having their Christmas lunch. It also pays to do your research. For example, if you’ve heard that your boss doesn’t eat red meat, you can ask what prompted the decision.”
3. Compliment them
“One of the best gifts you can give at Christmas is a compliment. Compliments lift the mood and help to spread positivity among the team. Try commenting on your boss’ appearance (‘I love your shirt. Where did you get it?’), something they’ve said or done (‘I was really inspired by your speech this morning’) or even the occasion itself (‘It’s great to get everyone together like this’). But whatever compliment you choose, make sure it’s genuine!”
4. Find out more about them
“Believe or not, bosses are human too, and an office Christmas party is the perfect occasion to find out more about your boss as a person. For exmaple, what motivates them? What are they passionate about? What are their hopes for the future? But whatever question you ask, think about what your response would be just in case your boss asks you the same!”
“Christmas parties are supposed to be fun and relaxed, but don’t forget that they’re also opportunities to influence. If you’re asked about what your biggest achievement this year is, or what impact you’ve made, reduce this to a single, memorable statement and use it in conversation with your boss:
‘I’m so proud of the way my team bonded this year.’
‘I think we’ve seen a big improvement in our productivity.’
‘Hitting our targets was a massive achievement.'”