Dear Matthew, can I skip the office Christmas party?
BD’s agony uncle on how to deal with cliquey colleagues
Question: The Christmas party is coming up this week, and I really don’t feel like going. I like where I work, but I don’t tend to socialise with colleagues. I tried, but the practice has quite a cliquey, drinking culture, and I just don’t feel part of it. But I am worried that if I don’t go, it might get held against me.
Answer: Some people’s social lives revolve around the office. And in architecture — particularly in London — I sometimes get the impression that many architects go weeks without coming into contact with other people — not only at work, but socially.
It can be very hard feeling like you don’t fit in at an office, and it can really grind you down. It’s a pity your colleagues give off this vibe.
I wonder how aware they are of the atmosphere you feel they create.
Maybe it is just one or two loud-mouths who set the tone. Have you thought that you could quietly build a better relationship with your colleagues if you dug out the more sensitive ones that you might bond with more?
Not that you have to become best friends, of course.
It’s just that it is good to feel comfortable with your workmates. After all, it sounds like you don’t doubt anything else about your position in the office.
Call me humbug, but I am not a big fan of Christmas either. Somehow, the office Christmas party is the one occasion of the working
year when it is especially hard to make excuses if you aren’t into it, and dislike raucous gatherings.
Saying that, I would advise you to bite the bullet, do the minimum and turn up.
It is only one evening, and it is good to show willing.
Try and enjoy things as much as you can, then duck out when you feel able.
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Architect Matthew Turner of buildingonarchitecture.com has worked at a range of offices as well as being a client adviser, project manager and competition juror.