Welcome Back to the Office Cocktail Party — And Be Very Careful

Richard Medugno
3 min readJun 14, 2021
Five people stand behind a table of wine bottles and candles talking to each other.
Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

Some worry about the virus or drinking too much, I worry about talking too much

As the pandemic restrictions end in the US and many businesses invite/request/demand employees back into office buildings and workplaces, there’s a lot of issues to consider — including how one appropriately and safely greets their coworkers now.

Personally, I worried about meeting my new coworkers in person for the first time as I started a new job a couple of months ago with a company that recently merged with another. Before last week’s “merger/welcome back” party, I’d only known colleagues via email, online chat, phone calls, and video conferencing apps.

I wondered what the greeting protocol would be at the cocktail party. The invitation didn’t stipulate. Hmmm. Should we be shaking hands? Or just stick with elbow-to-elbow tapping? Fist-bumping? Polite, little waves? Or respectful bows ala the Japanese?

Also, I wondered about masking up. The party was outside and I’ve been “Moderna-nized,” but if everyone is wearing masks or some haven’t been vaxxed, I want to do the right thing and also not call attention to myself.

Turns out I was worrying about the wrong things

As someone who has lived alone the past year and only socialized with close family members, it turned out I was worried about the wrong things.

The greetings I had with my new colleagues included all of the styles mentioned above — except for “respectful bows.” And no one was masking up — or needed to — as the party was on a big balcony with a refreshing and constant ocean breeze.

Here’s what I should have been concerned about:

  • Forgetting my “big room, big boy” social skills
  • Forgetting the art of hobnobbing with strangers
  • Forgetting my personal rules of etiquette of not arriving at the event too early and not staying too long
  • Remembering not to talk too much or speak with too much passion or with food in my mouth

Sadly, I didn’t realize how out of practice I was until it was too late. They…

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Richard Medugno

Richard is an author and scriptwriter. His latest book is Deaf Politician — The Gary Malkowski Story. His latest script is The Mulligan Marriage.