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Blog - Why many (men) may be feeling anxious about going to the Christmas party this year…

Why many (men) may be feeling anxious about going to the Christmas party this year…

Posted by Tracy Powley 27/11/18

Office PartyOver a year since Weinstein, the start of #MeToo and hundreds of media headlines and press articles later, the workplace landscape has shifted.

While this has meant a greater awareness around what sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour is (see our recent survey results) for many, it has also meant a heightened nervousness around “getting it wrong” - particularly amongst men.

In the recent article in the Times Magazine “What men are really thinking,” one 55 year old commented “I can’t work women out any more. I was brought up to hold doors open, offer compliments and bus seats. Now it seems even these acts of kindness can be perceived as sexist.” 

Issues around behaviour become amplified at this time of year with the slew of Christmas parties and client entertaining and many may well be feeling more confused about what’s OK at these events, than they were a year ago. The last thing we all want is for people to be withdrawing from social interaction out of fear.

So, what will help?

We need to reassure people that many things they would previously have done are still absolutely fine; holding open a door for someone is courteous and is not the same thing as expecting the one woman present at a meeting to make the coffee. Consensual flirting is fine. Not taking “No” for an answer isn’t. But the lines are not always clear.

What will help to dissipate the confusion and the worry about “getting it wrong” is for us all to talk about it. 

  • Make sure people know that if they are not sure how someone feels about something, it is OK to ask them. 
  • Open up team discussions to explore what is appropriate and what isn’t with others. The more people are able to exchange views with others, voice their concerns and ask questions, the more comfortable they will start to feel.  
  • Make sure people know that no question is too silly - that it is good to ask and talk through things that they are not sure about.
  • Create an understanding that we may not always get it right - and that’s OK, if we acknowledge that, apologise and use it to build stronger relationships.

We can’t draw up a definitive list of what’s OK and what’s not - this is a subjective area - but at least by surfacing the issues and talking through them, we can help to create an environment where people are more willing to check in with each other and prevent assumptions being made. 

And then hopefully everyone can look forward to the Christmas party and the workplace in 2019 - rather than see them as a source of anxiety.  

You may also like our blogs on 

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For more information about how we can help you create a genuinely inclusive culture, where everyone feels comfortable and valued, call us for a confidential chat on 01903 732 782 or email us or take a look at our case studies.

Tracy Powley
Tracy Powley

The way we behave towards each other in the workplace has a direct impact on individual wellbeing, team performance and organisational results. This belief has underpinned our work at Focal Point for over 20 years and has never been more relevant. We are privileged to work with a huge variety of organisations wanting to get workplace behaviour and culture right - and to tackle the inappropriate behaviour that may get in the way of this. Supported by our fantastic team of facilitators and coaches, we are able to make a real difference to peoples’ lives as well as organisational performance. Having worked in both large businesses at management level and in 2 start ups at director level, I am able to combine hands on experience of growing and managing teams - and the associated challenges in creating the right culture - with over 20 years in learning and development. I hold the Certificate in Training Practice and am a member of CIPD. When I am not supporting clients or developing the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...

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