Experts say you should generally attend professional events, but be prepared if you think you might get a hostile reaction
Justin Timberlake was by his bandmates’ sides as NSYNC received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame on Monday — but he said “Bye Bye Bye” to the afterparty.
While 90s boy band members JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone and Lance Bass all celebrated their success together at Delilah in West Hollywood after their big day, which included taping an episode for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Timberlake was conspicuously MIA without offering a reason why.
“He never showed up — and he was confirmed,” a source told Page Six, which shares a common parent company with Moneyish. “Joey arrived later after dinner hours and was in the best mood and making his way around.”
An insider also told Us Weekly that “No one was hurt that Justin wasn’t at the dinner,” even though some of his friends and family were there. Another source told the glossy that, “He was missed!”
While fans are still waiting for the “Say Something” singer to do just that, he’s certainly not the first person to skip an office shindig.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump skipped the Kennedy Center Honors dinner last year, which presidents of both parties have almost always attended for the last four decades. But the Trumps stayed away – and canceled a planned White House reception for the event – because their presence might be a “political distraction.”
Some pundits suggested that was because they were expecting a hostile reaction after honorees like Lionel Richie and Carmen de Lavallade threatened to boycott the gala if the First Couple came. Trump has also skipped the White House Correspondents’ Dinner for the past two years — making him the first President to do so since Ronald Reagan in 1981, although the Gipper still called in. He even went so far as to host his own rally, and tweet that the dinner is “DEAD as we know it. This was a total disaster and an embarrassment” following Michelle Wolf’s controversial monologue.
For everyone else, however, career coaches advise not skipping work events, even if they make you feel uncomfortable or you’re expecting some hostility. It may a dinner honoring a colleague that you don’t get along with, but “my belief is that you should suck it up and take the high road,” said Roy Cohen, author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.”
Indeed, you should look at such events as an offshoot of work — and thus, you’re not necessarily meant to enjoy it. “When you’re attending an office party, the key word is ‘office,’” said Julie Blais Comeau, a Canadian etiquette expert. “Generally, you should always attend”– as there could well be professional ramifications if you choose not to go.
“Are you going to shine by your absence, and are people going to interpret your absence as a lack of respect?” she said. “If your employer is requesting you go to an event, you should generally go.”
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be a hypocrite at such occasions. “You can stay low-profile, which means not saying much,” said Cohen, adding that you don’t necessarily have to stay for the entire event once your presence has been noted. “Just don’t look like you’re unhappy to be there.”
If you know there might be unpleasantness at such events, it’s wise to prepare. That can mean having a measured response ready if and when a snide remark is sent your way. “You can say things like, ‘I’m choosing to attend to honor this person, and I don’t feel this is the appropriate time for a discussion’,” said Blais Comeau, author of “Etiquette: Confidence and Credibility.”
And do so confidently, even if you feel awkward just being there. “When we feel hostility, we often react by hunching over– it’s the flight or fight mechanism,” she said. “But you should maintain eye contact, not touch the person and not point at them. Don’t fake it, but try to be in tune with the person.”
This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated with Justin Timberlake.
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved