In the #MeToo era, holiday party rules have changed. This New Year´s Eve, responsible revelers will exercise restraint. Some will go over the top: no compliments, no flirting, no double entendres, no buying drinks for members of the opposite sex. And for Heaven's sake, unless you are with your spouse or a date, no kissing.
Cautious, politically correct partygoers can still verbalize well wishes, while keeping their distance, physically, perhaps opting for a New Year´s handshake instead of a kiss. These added precautions are particularly important in today's social climate where one wrong move, easily memorialized via cell phone, may haunt the guilty party for years to come.
Good Manners Gone Overboard?
Conscientious objectors are protesting what they perceive as over-sensitivity. They complain that in a post-Harvey Weinstein era, we have sterilized social interaction to such an extent that we have gone over the edge. Have we?
For example, if at your New Year´s celebration, where many women will be dressed to the nines, you want to tell someone they look nice, can you say that? Perhaps it matters how you expresses the sentiment. There is a difference between “Great dress!” and “I like the way you look in that dress.”
And of course, vocal cues, expression, and body language all add context to content. A tipsy partygoer´s lecherous, borderline-lewd expression of admiration delivered with a leering expression might raise a potentially career-ending alarm, while a matter-of-fact compliment soberly delivered with a polite smile might not raise an eyebrow.
What else matters? Power. More specifically, the power imbalance between the flatterer and the flattered. Some people argue that it is safer in the long run to compliment higher ups than subordinates. Better to be viewed as a sycophant than a sexual predator.
Yet is there any middle ground?
You probably did not hang any mistletoe at your holiday party this year. Wise move. But I am willing to bet you did not go so far as to staff your holiday party with human resources personnel. You found a middle ground. We do the same thing on New Year's Eve — whether you are a party host or a party goer.
Two of the Most Dangerous Words of the Evening: “Hosted Bar”
Many of you already have plans to be at New Year´s Eve parties where the champagne will be flowing. Yet because the liquor will be free, so is this legal advice: celebrate with caution. Ring in the new year with sense, style, and safety.
When it comes to overindulgence, going bottoms up might render you belly up in terms of your career. Because in today´s world, appearances influence reality — and reputation. Do not give your cameras-in-hand fellow partiers anything to record, which might go viral.
In addition, as a prosecutor I am moved to remind you that over-indulgers risk their liberty as well as their livelihood. Partiers who drink and drive not only endanger other drivers, but their own safety as well. DUI checkpoints are everywhere on New Year's Eve, and often receive lots of business, given that a significant amount of impaired drivers are hitting the road at the same time.
Hosting a New Year's Eve Party? Save Your Guests From Themselves
Trying to be extra politically correct this year is hard enough without the party host facilitating alcohol-induced lapses in judgment by having an open bar. If you are hosting the party, risk management strategies include having a bartender mix drinks instead of letting guests mix their own — for obvious reasons. Or only serve champagne, beer, and wine.
Yet keep it festive. Offer tantalizing non-alcoholic options in addition to the usual soda and juice, such as a decadent coffee/hot chocolate bar, complete with a selection of holiday-themed trimmings. Your guests would all agree that spending the night staring at the ceiling in the throes of a caffeine buzz is better than spending the night in jail.
And to avoid anyone knocking one back “one for the road,” consider cutting off the booze well before the midnight ball drop, leaving the coffee station open all evening. And speaking of hitting the road, in addition to encouraging the use of Uber and other professional ride share services, have pre-arranged signups for pre-planned carpools with designated drivers.
The list of options goes on. The bottom line is that there are plenty of ways to ring in 2018 while remaining safe, sober, and successful. Happy New Year.
Wendy L. Patrick is a career prosecutor, named the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, and recognized by her peers as one of the Top Ten criminal attorneys in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. She has completed over 150 trials ranging from human trafficking, to domestic violence, to first-degree murder. She is President of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals San Diego Chapter and an ATAP Certified Threat Manager. Dr. Patrick is a frequent media commentator with over 2,500 appearances including CNN, Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and many others. She is author of "Red Flags" (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the revised version of the New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin with a rock band. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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