Happy Holidays! The holidays bring up lots of things at the office: festive decorations, year-end evaluations and bonuses, lots of project wrap-ups, and the annual holiday party. Just as important it is to show up to a meeting prepared, it's essential that you show up to the holiday party with the right mindset and guidelines.

Don't let your holiday party sabotage your professional gains or hinder your goals and growth for next year. If you intend on staying in your job, working your way up, and being seen as a leader, here are 7 behaviors that you should avoid like the plague:

1. Drinking too much.

Alcohol is a social lubricant, and it's often the center of most holiday parties. However, alcohol causes you to say and do things that you may not otherwise do sober. In a work environment, the last thing you want to do is say or do something that you will regret.

The key to a fantastic holiday party? Know your limits and stick to them. Nobody wants one night to be a reason for a year's worth of regret.

2. Talking about other people rather than discussing your ideas.

This is a big one. In a social setting, if you don't have something to say it's easy to start talking about other people. Gossip can be the glue in a social clique and can solidify your loyalty to the group. However, it's not the behavior of a leader. Be aware of the conversations you are having and make sure they are about ideas and engaging the relevant people involved. If you see gossipping, consider if that behavior is in line with your goals and how you want to be perceived.

3. Networking with an agenda rather than going with the flow.

Holiday parties can be a great opportunity to connect with higher-ups or, if you're a leader, people that are less senior than you. However, the event is meant to be fun, and people are quick to see through aggressive, agenda- driven conversation. Try going with the flow. If you want to talk to the CEO, make sure it's organic and kick off a conversation that is not related to work. A party is a party: think casual, organic, and fun. Use other opportunities to aggressively network, like inviting them out to lunch in the New Year.

4. Using flirtation as a connection tool.

In offices where there are lots of single people, it's easy to use flirtation as a connecting tool. But regardless of your gender, flirtation is a cheap way of connecting. You also risk making someone else feel uncomfortable, or starting the beginnings of an office romance. When you go that route you risk mixing personal issues with professional, and it can quickly get complicated and messy.

If you can keep your dating life separate from your work life, it makes things a lot easier, and you avoid creating awkward situation that could prevent you from getting opportunities.

5. Discussing business updates that are intended for a meeting.

It's easy to want to squeeze in business conversations with someone who is hard to pin down during business hours. However, a holiday party is not the right time. That person is not in business mode, and if they aren't making the time for you otherwise, then there may be other issues as hand. Either way, forcing business discussions in the wrong environment makes you seem pushy and inflexible.

6. Providing professional feedback to someone.

A conversation like this merits a more formal sit-down. A party is never a good time for feedback, especially if alcohol is involved. Feedback is a critical component to great performance, and forcing it from someone or delivering it in a social setting doesn't honor its importance.

7. Complaining about your job or your unhappiness.

A party is meant to be a time of celebration. If you aren't happy in your job, don't go. Going and complaining sends the wrong message: that you are a victim and aren't capable of initiating change. Instead of going to the party, spend the time strategizing to make positive change in your current situation or consider if it's time to leave.

A holiday party should be a time for closing out the year and celebrating with your colleagues. If you stay clear of the above mishaps, it should be a time to connect, express gratitude and build excitement for the year ahead. Enjoy!

Published on: Dec 1, 2015