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Mikael

Office Parties And Office Politics

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(bismillah)
(salam)

Scenario: An employer regularly hosts parties, attending which is not a compulsion. Employees are asked to attend, and most of the employees do attend.

Problem: A particular employee has a completely different nature to the rest, and different priorities too. This person does not like partying with employees, and rather likes to spend quality time with family and parents. As such, the employee makes every effort to avoid these parties.

Questions:

1. How (much) negatively would this avoidance be seen by the employer and other employees? Would it be considered rude?

2. How must the employee deal with the employer to not give a bad impression, and still succeed in avoiding the parties? Should the employee talk about his different priorities with the employer? Or should the employee mask his views and adopt a more diplomatic approach?
3. What 'office politics' might the employee fear in this case?
4. If the employer does not compromise, would it be sufficient for the employee to attend a party once in a while?

 

JazakAllah.

 

(wasalam)

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Honestly it's hard to tell. 1, 3 and 4 vary on a case to case basis.

 

As for 2., you could compensate for your lack of party attending by giving your best (quality-wise, efficiency-wise) at work. Your attitude at work would also help..maybe have lunch with others instead of having it by yourself if that's a suitable option. As for discussing your priorities vs diplomacy/making excuses, it depends on your specific case, and how your employer will take it (which you alone can judge).

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(bismillah)

(salam)

Scenario: An employer regularly hosts parties, attending which is not a compulsion. Employees are asked to attend, and most of the employees do attend.

Problem: A particular employee has a completely different nature to the rest, and different priorities too. This person does not like partying with employees, and rather likes to spend quality time with family and parents. As such, the employee makes every effort to avoid these parties.

Questions:

1. How (much) negatively would this avoidance be seen by the employer and other employees? Would it be considered rude?

2. How must the employee deal with the employer to not give a bad impression, and still succeed in avoiding the parties? Should the employee talk about his different priorities with the employer? Or should the employee mask his views and adopt a more diplomatic approach?

3. What 'office politics' might the employee fear in this case?

4. If the employer does not compromise, would it be sufficient for the employee to attend a party once in a while?

  1. It's not considered rude. However, out-of-work/away-from-work activities are extremely important for building stronger relationships between colleagues especially if your work involves a lot of collaboration. Most managers and supervisors use these opportunities to get to know you outside of a work context. This becomes very important when you need their references/recommendations for promotions etc.
  2. You're probably not giving anyone a bad impression. You're just failing to provide a better impression of yourself than might be possible by just working hard. Talking about your different priorities might be seen as rude, as they might interpret it to think that you're suggesting that they do not have those same priorities. No need to mask your views, just make an effort to be diplomatic and attend more events that allow you the opportunity to socialize and build rapport with your colleagues and bosses.
  3. Legally speaking, if you're in the West, they can't really marginalize you or discriminate against you because you don't attend parties. But the reality of the matter is that being a recluse, if you will, only harms your interests in the long-term. You want to be seen as a friendly person interested in getting to know your colleagues. You don't have to be best friends with them, but you should make an effort to socialize...given that you're spending a lot of time with them in your work environment.
  4. Employers can't force you to do anything that's not part of your job. You should put some effort into socializing etc not because you have to, but out of the recognition that it's actually good for you. It gives you an opportunity to relax and get to know people outside of a strictly professional/work environment. In these professional environments, it's always important to leave a good impression of yourself. People understand that you have commitments to family and that not everyone has the financial means to socialize/party all the time. But when you consistently refuse to partake in any social activity that leaves a bad impression, you'll just be excluded because people will feel you're avoiding them.

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As a compromise, I try to make a point of attending the more "family friendly" events whenever possible. In my line of work there aren't many Muslims, but plenty of nonmuslims do not drink or act crazy in public. I generally gravitate toward those people in my social interactions.

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If the party starts while you are at work, you could keep working and join the others as late as you can. If the party starts outside of work hours and it is an inconvenience for you to go, you do not have to go. If you want to show that you are a sociable person, you could go to every party but only stay a few minutes and just smile and listen to others talk, with your eye on the clock to get out of there. Just spend enough time and say hello to everyone, show that you are happy to see them and join them. If you do not want to go to any party, you can tell your boss or co-workers that you have other responsibilities that keep you from attending, and you do not have to explain that, unless you want to. The next day tell people you were sorry you missed all the fun, ask what kind of food was served, etc. That way they will think you are a normal person but just could not come. :)

 

Excuses are plenty:

  • I’d love to join the party, but unfortunately I will be out of town that day. 
  • I really appreciate the invitation, but I won't be able to attend.
  • Maybe I can come another time. 
  • Sorry, but I’m meeting my parents on that day.
  • I’m sorry but I have a family event scheduled on the same day.
  • I’ll not be able to make it for the party because I am having surgery that week.
  • Due to a previous engagement, I can’t make it to the party.
  • Thank you for your invitation, but I have an important appointment the same day.

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