The Blurred Line

Having about six months of work experience under my belt, I’ve gotten to attend a handful of professional events. Most were conferences at hotels that lasted several days. The atmosphere at these conferences can be more relaxed than when working in the office. This environment coupled with the prospect of free alcohol, causal dress and music can be a bit dangerous.

Most people understand that they are at a work function and maintain a level of professionalism. But after attending some of these events, it’s easy to see how the line between personal and professional can be blurred quite quickly. I’ve met some amazing individuals while working and connected with them on both a personal and professional level. While I do consider some of them friends and sounding boards, there is still a line I’m not willing to cross like at a work event.

cross_lineIn my opinion, drinking helps to cloud your judgement and make you forget that you are actually at work with colleagues and superiors. However, alcohol consumption is not the only way to cross the personal/professional line. Over-sharing personal information, using foul language and busting an inappropriate dance move can all contribute to a loss in credibility. As a younger professional, that is the last thing I want to do. But I’ll admit, it was hard in California to remember I was working and not on vacation. We were at a great location, in casual clothing and had the opportunity to relax after working all day. One could easily get caught up in all of that.

Based off my experience at these conferences, here are a few tips I thought of to maintain the personal/professional balance:

1. If you drink, know your limits. I’m a fan of alternating: one drink then one glass of water.Work Husband

2. Dress causal but still appropriately. No ripped jeans or cut-offs. If your grandmother would be embarrassed seeing you in a certain outfit, don’t wear it.

3. If you want to have a personal conversation, do it away from the rest of the team and more importantly, away from attendees.

4. Schedule time outside of work to meet and catch up with work friends. It will be more fun that way!

When working onsite events, it is especially easy to unwind too much and forget you’re at work. No one is saying don’t build friendships at work or celebrate with your work friends. But there is a time and a place for that. A work event is about the attendees, not the onsite team. I’m grateful that my team set high standards onsite this past week. It absolutely helped me maintain my professionalism.

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