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When and how much alcohol one consumes plays a key role in how to successfully navigate office holiday parties, says one U of M expert.

U of M expert has advice on mastering the office holiday party

December 10, 2010

It’s office holiday party season, bringing with it a range of anxieties. Some worry they will have nothing to talk about besides work. Others wonder if their spouse or friend will gain nods of approval from co-workers. Finally, there’s always the potential that lingering on-the-job conflicts will escalate into open combat.

A University of Minnesota expert who can comment on how to successfully navigate the office holiday party is:

Matt Kushner, professor of psychiatry, University of Minnesota Academic Health Center

Above all things, Kushner says one should go. “The office holiday party is more an office function than an optional social function.”

When and how much alcohol one consumes plays a key role, Kushner says. “You probably shouldn’t drink prior to the party. If you plan to drink at the party, establish a limit prior to going and stick to it.” He says a helpful way to manage this is to always have a glass in your hand, keeping waiters and friends from pushing additional drinks on you.

To avoid that tongue-tied feeling, Kushner recommends having two or three things of general interest, either about the office or other (non-controversial) in mind to bring up before the party. “Consider asking colleagues about their families, kids in particular,” Kushner says.

Kushner's research explores the interface between co-occurring anxiety disorders and alcohol disorders. Clinically, he employs behavioral and cognitive behavioral techniques in the treatment of anxiety conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder.

To interview Kushner, contact Nick Hanson, U of M Academic Health Center, (612) 624-2449 or; or Jeff Falk, University News Service, (612) 626-1720 or

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today’s breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: Academic Health Center

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U of M Department of Psychiatry