Parties and protection

This year’s office party season is on a collision course with the current climate of physical and sexual misconduct accusations. People’s lives have become derailed and in some cases destroyed by events that careened out of their control. However, with minimal planning, and minor course changes, catastrophe can often be averted. The following is a collection of tried and proven directives. The goal is to prevent social disasters and to pave the way for productive and risk-free work and after-work environments:

Respect yourself. Respect others. This is foundational.

Establish your boundaries now. Yes right now. Sit down and write them out if you need to. It is very difficult to set limits when you are on the dance floor or in the hotel elevator.

Don’t fly solo. Going to a party without having a faithful friend who will help you maintain your dignity and integrity is like going to the beach without sunscreen. He or she must be willing and able to ensure that you are protected and that your pre-set boundaries don’t get violated under any circumstance.

Sleazy people do sleazy things. Don’t be sleazy and avoid those who are.

How many meaningful and lasting relationships are developed after 11PM? If the intimate conversation cannot wait until lunch the next day it is probably not worth pursuing.

You don’t have to drink alcohol – even if the drinks are free. The social norm is changing. You will find that you will be respected if you make the choice to stay sober.

If you are drinking, the only thing you should be doing with your cell-phone is calling a taxi and even that should be done with caution. However, texting, social networking, photo sharing and drinking certainly do not mix. Seriously.

If you are harassed or assaulted, tell someone you trust. Never accept the blame for someone else’s crimes.

When entering into a relationship it is important to remember that you have some critical but often under-utilized body parts. Here are a few:

Eyes: Not everything you see is real. Don’t let your imagination or your third drink confuse what is authentic and what is imitation.

Ears: Listen. “No” always means no and only “Yes” means yes.

Mouth: Use your words.

Hands: Don’t touch anything that does not belong to you without the owner’s permission.

Feet: leave earlier than later. If you are in an environment and are feeling uncomfortable you are correct.

Heart: Protect your heart. It is the part of you that heals most slowly.

Office parties and company events can be excellent places to network, to build community, and to celebrate a company’s successes. Keeping them on track is everyone’s responsibility. Do your part to protect yourself and you will increase your odds of not only enjoying the party but also developing happy and healthy relationships.

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