It’s that very special time of the year when many Americans are receiving invitations to their annual office holiday party. If you’re one of them, you’ll probably look forward to the event with great excitement—until you start to recall the blunders of years past. Like the time you ran out of things to say to your CEO and awkwardly asked if his divorce was finalized. Or the time a drunk coworker got a little too close for comfort when you were both standing under the mistletoe. Or even worse things.
Yes, while office holiday parties can be hit or miss, many people find their past experiences fall more often in the “miss” category. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way, says Andrew Sobel. He explains that with the right approach, your office holiday party can provide a great opportunity to build relationships and strengthen your position at your company.
If you want to connect more effectively with colleagues, deepen your existing relationships, and stick to the straight-and-narrow to stay out of trouble at your upcoming office holiday party, read on for a few power questions to help you out:
Questions about work. Don’t spend your time gossiping about coworkers and what’s been happening at the office. Instead, ask thought-provoking questions about how your colleagues feel about and experience their work. A few options:
- What was your best day and worst day at work during this past year?
- What was the most fulfilling experience you had this year?
- What do you think is the best part of working here? The worst part?
- What’s the most challenging part of your job?
- How did you get your start? (This is an especially good question to ask your boss or a senior leader in your organization. It’s a simple but powerful way to draw someone out).
Questions about goals and challenges. If the foundation of relationships is trust, the engine that moves them forward is helping others reach their goals and confront their most challenging issues. You can do this, however, only if you understand what the other person’s needs are. So ask questions like:
- So what’s on your agenda in your work for next year? Any particular projects or initiatives you’re focused on?
- If you suddenly had a couple of extra hours per week outside of work, how would you spend them?
Questions about others’ passions. We have many activities going on in our lives, but usually we each harbor just a few true passions. If you can discover someone else’s passions, you’ll be able to connect much more effectively. Here’s how to do it:
- Tell me about your favorites. What’s your favorite movie of all time? Favorite restaurant? Favorite book you’ve read in the last couple of years? Favorite way to relax?
- Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but have never been able to get around to it? A sport, a hobby, an event, a challenge, a trip, whatever?
- As you think about next year, what are you most excited about—at work or at home?
- What’s been the most gratifying experience you’ve had this year?
Questions to learn more about them as people. Ask people about themselves. The more you learn about them, the more you may find in common, and the more you’ll understand what makes them tick.
- So, when you’re not shaking things up at the office, how do you like to spend your time?
- When you were younger, how did your family spend the holidays? What are your plans this year?
- If you hadn’t gone into (business, law, banking, medicine, teaching, etc.), what do you think you might have done?
- Where did you grow up? What was that like?
About The Author: Andrew Sobel is the most widely published author in the world on client loyalty and the capabilities required to build trusted business relationships. His first book, the bestselling Clients for Life, defined an entire genre of business literature about client loyalty. In addition to Power Questions, his other books include Making Rain and the award-winning All for One: 10 Strategies for Building Trusted Client Partnerships.
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