REVIVING THE ART OF ETIQUETTE WITH ELLEN LUBIN-SHERMAN: Entertaining With The Boss
The Command Performance (a.k.a. Off-site Entertaining With the Boss)
When the boss invites you to a party, it’s not an invitation: it’s a command performance. Few of us would have the courage to send regrets (unless there is a long-planned family occasion taking place at the same time of the party). And few of us are confident about handling this situation with panache as any outing involving the boss requires maximum dexterity.
First, we start with the response to the invitation. Express your delight at being included to the event and rsvp within seven days. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your good manners – don’t blow it.
Party Attire For An Evening Soiree
Now that the invitation has been acknowledged, you must pay scrupulous attention to your attire. Attire is a critical component to making the best impression and cementing your superb reputation. Dress for the occasion. High five to the following: If it’s a summer evening soiree, gentlemen should wear a shirt that’s open at the collar, a casual sport jacket and a pair of chinos. Polished loafers or a pair of suede bucks are always top notch. Women should wear a dress with short sleeves and sandals, pantsuit or separates such as a pair of pants, a blouse and a jacket. Thumbs down to the following (men): Tank tops, sloppy shorts, and flip flops. For the women, do not even think about wearing “short” shorts, see-through tee shirts, strapless dresses or dresses that are backless or have plunging necklines. Remember: It’s a so-called party with the boss but it is really “work.”
Daytime Attire for a Pool Party
An afternoon pool party opens up a can of worms. Many people read the word “pool” on the invitation and bring their bathing suits. I would strongly urge you not to do this. To this kind of event you can certainly go more casual and wear shorts, a sundress, topsiders, and sandals but keep the attire on the conservative side. In fact, I would suggest that you remove toe rings if you’re wearing sandals. Why chance it if your boss has an issue with toe rings?
Bringing a Gift
It’s always a lovely gesture to bring a gift to a party and just because the party is at the boss’s home or country club doesn’t change the equation. Don’t go overboard and out-do the other guests. Wine, chocolate, flowers, or a book that the boss would appreciate are appropriate.
There’s an open bar: How much should you drink?
Go easy on the spirits since it might loosen you up a bit too much but refusing to sip a glass of wine or beer might make the boss wonder if you’re a recovering alcoholic or just uptight. Trust me: The boss is watching you. You want the boss to see you in a flattering light in the way you behave after-hours. Take a drink and sip it if you don’t enjoy wine or beer but don’t look like a spoil sport.
The Spouse or Partner Issue
If your spouse or partner has no interest in attending the boss’s party or has a tendency to gossip, make snarky comments, and even worse – cannot drink in moderation – make an excuse and leave him or her at home. While you might be a master of social etiquette, do not put yourself in the situation of having to apologize for your partner’s louche behavior.
All parties must come to an end but you must not leave too soon. Stay at least one hour even if it’s torture. Compliment the boss on his/her generosity, mingle with your colleagues, have something to eat and drink and then, slip out the door. Do not make a big deal about leaving since it might encourage other people to leave. And don’t forget to send a hand-written thank you note within 24 hours of attending the party.