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Sticky Holiday Situations at Work

With the holiday season approaching, people’s thoughts turn to spending time with family, giving and receiving gifts, attending parties and other related activities. What many workers may not consider are the etiquette issues that can arise at the office.

Following are some tricky office-related holiday situations and suggestions for best dealing with them:

Sticky Situation No. 1: A colleague buys you a holiday gift, but you didn’t get her anything

Don’t fret: There’s no need to rush out to the nearest store or reply with a hasty apology. A sincere thank-you note is enough to show your gratitude. However, if you do decide to reciprocate, purchase something within the same price range as the present you were given or give a homemade gift.

Remember to consider the individual’s personality, selecting something that suits his interests. If you’re stumped, you can get hints from items on his or her desk or by asking co-workers for ideas. Should you still be at a loss, “neutral” choices such as gift cards, baked goods and stationary are good options.

Sticky Situation No. 2: The company holiday party is approaching, and you’d rather not go

You may not relish attending your company’s holiday celebration for any number of reasons. But unless you have another commitment that you can’t get out of, it’s wise to at least make an appearance. Most of your co-workers will be there, including those in management, and your absence may be noticed.

Being there also is a good way to interact with people you don’t typically have the opportunity to speak with and mingle with higher-ups. If you do attend, keep a positive attitude and watch how much alcohol you consume. If you overindulge, you risk being the talk of the office for all the wrong reasons.

Sticky Situation No. 3: You have big plans during the holidays, but with so many people requesting time off, you’re worried you might not be granted the vacation days you would like

The early bird catches the worm in this case, so broach the subject with your manager as soon as possible. You both can determine the best time to schedule your vacation so you avoid leaving when major projects hit their peaks or numerous colleagues will be absent.

Sticky Situation No. 4: You’re one of the few people not on vacation during the holidays, and you’re stuck at the office without much to do

The lack of distractions and pressing issues presents you with an ideal opportunity. Check with others in the office and find out if they need assistance on any projects. They’ll appreciate the offer and be more likely to help you in the future.

Another option is tackling back-burner assignment that you’ve put aside. Or straighten up your desk, getting rid of old papers and organizing what remains. Go through your e-mail folders, too, and delete unnecessary messages. Cleaning up your work area will allow you to hit the ground running after the holidays.


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