How to Avoid Pizza Night at the Office and Stay a “Team Player”

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If there’s one thing corporate America loves, it’s throwing an office pizza party. Did you hit your numbers for the quarter? It’s pizza night at the office. A long-time worker is retiring? Have a baby? Hit a milestone birthday? Pizza party, pizza party, pizza party.

Of course, most employees would be prefer, I don’t know, a increase versus some dough, sauce, and cheese (maybe toppings, if you’re lucky). Employee oneappreciated in the form of dollars in the bank account will always be more satisfying only a slice or two, so I don’t blame yourself if you’d rather avoid pizza night at the office altogether. But what about the potential fallout from this decision? Will you be seen as less of a team player in the office?

Under many circumstances, yes. That is, unless you use one of the following tactics to prevent you from making an appearance at the party without losing any of the goodwill you have built among your boss and colleagues.

Offer to help plan the party

Organizing office parties is a thankless task. Most offices will not have a designated event planner, so the responsibility often falls on any employee who is ready to assume it. Because of this, anyone who bites the bullet and plans the party earns a certain level of martyrdom, and with that status comes the possibility of not attending the party.

In the end, it’s a valid proposition. Is it a bit of a pain to plan pizza night at the office? Of course it is. But the time you spend ordering pizza and making sure there are plates and napkins in the kitchen is far less than the time you should be spending at the party, chatting lazily with your colleagues. Once this party is up and running, you’re free to get out of there. And no one will be able to say a word about your departure, because you don’t look like a gift horse in your mouth.

Say you use the time to get work done

The point of getting into work is ultimately to do your work. So if there’s a pizza night in the books, but you tell your co-workers you’re not going to go because you have work to do, they really can’t blame you. It’s a foolproof excuse. After all, you wouldn’t accuse a surgeon of not being a team player if he didn’t show up for the monthly birthday meeting…them, presumably, have more important things to do.

Tell your colleagues that you are about to close a deal; they won’t ask questions. They will be happy with the prosperity of the business and will not Think twice about what is actually your practical excuse for not drinking hot Sprite with the accounting department.

Schedule a doctor’s appointment

Chances are you’ll know about any pending pizza nights at least a week in advance. You’re probably behind on a doctor’s appointment anyway, so you might as well get the best value out of it. Tell all your colleagues you are disgusted miss the gatheringbut unfortunately, 4:30 p.m. on Friday is the only time available for your dentist—aAnd it’s not like they’re going to call your dentist’s office and find out they’re available every day this week.

make an excuse

This is definitely the riskiest option because “making up an excuse” is really just code for “lying”.” But desperate times call for desperate measures. The key to a good “apology” is a mix of specificity and vagueness. You can’t just say, “I’m sorry, something happened.” But saying, “I’m sorry, something happened with my son at school?”” Now you are cooking with gas. Most people don’t go look for more information about something like this; and they’ll think that all you’re dealing with is decidedly worse than a pizza night at the office.

Of course, the threatens here getting caught lying will eventually damage your social status in the office and mark you as not being a team player. But if you’re willing to take that chance, making up an excuse is your ticket out of the office and back home on the freeway.

radical honesty

I will be radically honest with you. The success rate of this one is low and the chances of it backfiring on you are high. But it’s an option I still want to lie on the table for you. If you’re not planning on going to the office pizza party and someone asks you why, tell them the truth. They’re your co-workers, not your friends, and you don’t have to eat pizza with them. Some people might be offended, but others might respect you for the franchise. It’s not like they really wanna go either.

Joseph K. Bennett