Know the right thing to say

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Company get-togethers are your chance to get to know colleagues on a more personal level, so don’t fall back into talking shop. “You don’t want to talk about business, because once you start talking about that, it’s no longer a party,” says Schweitzer. “You might as well go back to the office and start working.” Other topics to avoid? Politics, sex, and religion, says Schweitzer. Instead, stick with less controversial topics like travel, books, movies, and sports, or use these conversation starters that make you seem more interesting.

Keep it positive

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Gossiping and complaining will only bring you down at what’s meant to be a cheerful occasion. “The whole purpose of the party is to celebrate the successes of the year,” says Schweitzer. If the person you’re chatting with is saying something you wouldn’t want your boss to overhear, make a graceful exit. Memorize these magic phrases that can save an awkward conversation.

Mix and mingle

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This is your chance to get to get to know people in other departments, so don’t stay glued to your usual office buddies. Limit conversations to about five or 10 minutes so everyone has a chance to work the room, says Schweitzer. “Otherwise it looks like you’re staying with one person the whole night and not making an effort to mix and mingle,” she says. When you’re mingling, try these tips for making great small talk.