The Business Chemistry guide to navigating office holiday parties

‘Tis the sThe Business Chemistry guide to navigating office holiday partieseason for requisite office holiday parties, with the associated potential for social awkwardness as you mingle. At work parties, while there are many things to avoid doing in general (drunken karaoke probably being high on that list), there are also things that are particularly unappealing to specific individuals based on their different working styles. So to help make your interactions as pleasant as possible this season, here’s a quick list of what to do, and more importantly what NOT do, with each of the four main working styles you’ll see across your bosses and co-workers.

With Drivers

Drivers appreciate intelligence and challenge, are NOT big on small talk. So this is not the group to chitchat with about the weather, or with whom you would share personal stories about how your Grandma’s sister’s second cousin once gave his pound cake recipe to your family, or…you get the point. And Drivers will want you to get to yours. If you really want to get a Driver engaged, choose a topic that you can debate with them. And make sure you have facts to back up your argument.

With Integrators

Integrators are the opposite of Drivers. They’re empathetic, diplomatic, and appreciate authentic connections. This is not the type to listen to with one ear while you scan the room for someone more important to talk to, or to regale with your latest set of accomplishments. If you really want to get an Integrator engaged, be inquisitive about their personal as well as professional lives, really listen, and go with the conversation flow.

With Guardians

Guardians value structure and preparation, and are the most introverted of the four styles. If it’s a Guardian throwing the party, don’t be late! This is not the type to ask to take unnecessary risks and break the rules (“shall we spike that eggnog?”) or with whom to be overly maudlin. If you really want to get a Guardian engaged, initiate a conversation about a topic they know a lot about, and ask them to take you through the details about it.

With Pioneers

Pioneers love exploring new possibilities and dreaming big. This is not the type to force to a specific agenda (“wait, you can’t have a spontaneous dance party now, we haven’t done the traditional gift exchange yet”), and won’t appreciate you raining on their latest parade with inconvenient facts. If you really want to get a Pioneer engaged, bring up anything fun or new, and enthusiastically riff on the topic together (“yes, and!…”).

So the next time you’re dashing off to that office holiday party, you better watch out. You’re likely to come across each of these types. And now that you know what’s bad or good, be good for goodness sake!

Kimberly Christfort
Kim heads Deloitte’s Leadership Center for Clients Group (LCC), which helps executives tackle tough business challenges through experiential engagement. Kim works with business leaders and their teams to uncover cognitive and behavioral barriers to performance, and designs experiences to get them to breakthrough. Follow her on Twitter @christfort

This publication contains general information only, and none of the member firms of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, its member firms, or their related entities (collective, the “Deloitte Network”) is, by means of this publication, rendering professional advice or services. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional adviser. No entity in the Deloitte Network shall be responsible for any loss whatsoever sustained by any person who relies on this publication.
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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