I am very, very surprised I haven’t written a post on this. This is the part of my job I hate.
I chose a career in FMCG sales (don’t ask me why) where the female population is negligible.
*FMCG sales = General Trade and not Modern Trade*
I avoid corporate parties as much as possible… why? I will get to that in a few sentences…
Why have I attended the parties?
- When I started out my career I was too scared to say “No”. That has changed now, thankfully.
- My boss (my favourite one) made me attend parties and I respect him too much to say “No”. It actually helped me interact better with my colleagues and feel like part of the group. But this is a one off instance
- I like my current team and look forward to partying with them. Thankfully, none of them are big drinkers and my boss likes to turn in early (10 pm)… so, it’s not a drag
- I never drink or dance at corporate parties till am comfortable in the organization. Which means, I am absolutely sure nobody is going to make me feel uncomfortable (very common) and I have people around me who will keep me safe (very important)
This is what happens at any corporate party:
- You have spent 9 am to 6 pm with your colleagues. For some reason, organizations think it’s a good idea to put drunk men and women in the same room after a boring day and expect people to be on their best/ethical behavior. And why on earth would I want to hang out with the same people after 6 pm? Hasn’t anyone heard of the word “boring”?
- In sales, drinks are a tactic to get your work done. Reportees love managers who take them out for drinks… employees love organizations who give them free drinks few times in the year. It makes no sense to me, of course. I was more than happy to work in Gujarat in GT sales where there is prohibition and I didn’t have to worry about the drinks part of it.
- If the party starts at 7 pm… food does not get served before 9/10 pm because 2-3 hours are for drinking. I reach the party around 8.30 pm just before dinner will be served
- By 9 pm, people have started getting high and start dancing. I use the word “dancing” very loosely here. Like, I always get to see someone doing the naagin dance. Apparently, it is quite a hit among the sales guys.
- If the corporate people are in this party, you will get to see the female crowd. They will hang out with their buddies- other marketing/HR people and avoid the sales guys. If any of these women decide to interact with the sales guys, it is at her peril.
- Women like me will shake a leg if we have company. Most of the time, I reach late, show my face… have a cold drink… sneak out for dinner… sneak back to my room… watch a movie or blog or am on the phone. If I have good company, I will stay on the dance floor longer and shake a leg with my reportees (it qualifies as “unofficial” interaction and gets me bonus points during appraisal season), my manager (so he knows I made the effort to keep my disdain aside and try to fit in) and my team (so they know I can be cool, I just choose not to). I don’t do the whole networking with the top management bit like a lot of women because that is not how I want to move up in my career.
- At every party, there will be some guy who thinks getting high on drinks makes him sexier. He thinks he is so irresistible that he can get too close to the women and they will automatically be drawn to his masculinity. A sensible woman always has someone to look out for her in such situations. A good manager never gets so high that he cannot keep an eye on his reportees and admonish them when they are out of line. But that species is quite rare (I have worked with 2 such great guys though) and so your designated guy will try to keep such riff raff away. It happened at the recent party where one guy spent all the dancing time on keeping the drunk guy away from us.
- People are shitty. When they are drunk, they just get shittier. All this stuff about talking the truth when you are drunk is bull crap. I hate dealing with drunk people. HATE. I like interacting with people who know what they are saying, when they are saying it. What is the point of a conversation if it means nothing the next day, worse… you don’t even remember it the next day? So when a guy gets drunk and creepy… trust me, everyone gets creepy/creepier when they are drunk; the only thing I remember about this person is his drunk face. Whether he is a reportee, boss, team member or someone from another team… I only remember his “drunk” face everytime and it disgusts me. Nobody looks good when they are drunk.
- 90% of the men in the room will never be in the same room drinking and dancing with women except with wives or if they pay for it. So yeah, it isn’t the best crowd.
- It’s a fact that men can get away with anything – puking after too many drinks, flirting, talking shit… even sleeping around. But as soon as a woman gets drunk, everyone… and I mean, EVERYONE… from the office peon to the top management will gossip about it. Slept around with a colleague at a party or even if there is a rumour about it? That is all you will be known for. In my personal life, I don’t give a shit what people say. But professionally, I only want them to talk about my work – good or bad.
For me… the corporate party is the nightmare and I have numerous tactics to get either avoid it or deal with it for minimum torture.