Support a partner’s career by being a good team player. Use your spouse’s company parties, annual picnics and out-of-office gatherings to make a good impression on their coworkers. Doing so can make these “dates” more enjoyable for both of you and also have a positive effect on your partner’s work life.
Crack the dress code
Keep the following in mind when deciding on what to wear to your significant other’s company event:
- Know that a good appearance isn’t about Hollywood’s standards of beauty. It’s about knowing what the appropriate appearance is for the occasion, the person and the place. Yoga pants are popular, but generally a no-go for fine dining with your partner’s coworkers.
- Check event invitations for “suggested attire” and use it as a guide for what to wear. Also consider the type of event and the venue. Sometimes formal events like a black-tie fundraiser, happen in less formal venues like a school gymnasium.
- Have your significant other ask the organizer of the event what the suggested attire is. Terms like semi-formal, formal or after five offer a range of clothing options, from a nice blazer and slacks to bow ties and evening gowns.
- Take care with wearing clothing designed to show cleavage and bare skin. You don’t have to be buttoned up to your chin, but your partner’s coworkers don’t need to know if your belly button is an innie or an outie.
- Know what the style norms are at your spouse’s workplace (yoga pants, tattoos, visible body piercings, business casual, or suits and heels). Is the company’s dress code rigid or relaxed?
- Remind yourself that making minor adjustments to your personal style to impress your partner’s boss, coworkers and junior staff members a couple of times a year is a small sacrifice.
Plan on your conversation before your arrival
Here are some conversation starters to help you make a good impression on your spouse’s coworkers:
- Be prepared to talk shop. Work is what coworkers mostly talk about and it’s a welcome diversion from the rubber chicken entrée. While you won’t be expected to chat about last quarter’s sales numbers, a neutral comment about a planned expansion shows interest in the company your spouse helped to start.
- Ask your significant other about what the current buzz is around the office. A little insight on office gossip or pending layoffs makes it easier to steer clear of these tricky subjects.
- Avoid, no matter how tempting, discussions about politics, religion, the value of the Boston Tea Party in modern times and other subjects where personal opinions vary greatly. Nod, smile and keep your ears open for less volatile small talk to engage in.
- Meet and greet. If this is your first event, make it a priority to meet your spouse’s boss and the people they work most closely with.
- Lead the conversation. Popular television shows, movies, local restaurants, travel, music and the weather (sports can be iffy) are topics most people enjoy. But know your audience. A review of an expensive, 5-star restaurant you frequent with your coworkers may be construed as bragging.
- Put profanity, slang and adult humor on pause. Especially at events where children are included. People may not show they’re offended by the F-bomb you dropped, but it will be noted and likely shared with others in the office.
- Discuss only the basic details of your personal life. The schools your children attend, pets, your job and where you live is plenty to share.
- Do not engage in discussions about your partner’s professional aspirations. Doing so may not match what they’re telling supervisors and others about their desired career path; like applying for the new supervisor opening.
- Nix ideas of professional networking with your spouse’s coworkers. But networking with their spouses is fine, just keep these relationships professional and above board.
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Manage your behavior~root~>
Keep these tips in mind when getting to know your spouse’s coworkers:
- Be sincere. Most people recognize bad acting and ulterior motives.
- The combination of food, booze and music should make for relaxed behavior, but not too relaxed. Be friendly but not flirtatious; interested but not intrusive; and outgoing but not overwhelming.
- Remember you’re in the company of your partner’s coworkers and their significant others. The spouses of the people your partner works with will have opinions about you that they’ll share with their spouses. So be very careful of your interactions with them as well.
- Volunteer. When you attend company events like picnics and gatherings in the office offer to pitch in. In a small business an extra set of hands to assist with refreshments or moving picnic tables will be appreciated.
Keep happy hour professional
Keep these things in mind when meeting your spouse’s coworkers outside of office events:
- Meet your partner and their coworkers for happy hour to become better acquainted with them in a more relaxed, management free, setting. But still mind your manners, alcohol consumption and opinions.
- Accept invitations to attend private gatherings. When your spouse’s boss invites you for dinner, you got to go (despite any feelings you may have about the boss’ lifestyle choices or management style). Follow your partner’s lead on how to interact socially with the boss and their mate.
- Don’t invite your partner’s happy hour coworkers to become Sunday Funday pals. You want to keep the relationships with your spouse’s coworkers professional.