Painted Pumpkins by publicdomainpictures

Guest blog by Sunny Kim

Halloween can be an exciting time to celebrate our love for funky costumes, such as the Twilight series, Dracula, or a ghoul. However, one careless mistake can also cause serious damage to your professional reputation. Whether that’s selecting an inappropriate costume, making an insensitive statement or getting too drunk at an after-hours party, avoid these mistakes so Halloween is enjoyable everyone.

Follow these 5 tips to channel your millennial understanding and respect for different cultures to avoid negative consequences.

1. Research Culture, Rules and Expectations

If your organization is hosting to have a small Halloween party or allowing costumes for the occasion, research the culture, rules and expectations ahead of time. Ask a mentor or coach about the written and unwritten rules of your workplace. This can be extremely helpful as you will steer clear of potentially offensive and inappropriate costumes. Listen carefully to any short pep talk or announcement about what is and what’s not expected of the holiday.

2. Selecting a Costume

When selecting an attire, be extra careful. Choosing a costume that represents another culture, race or ethnicity can be very difficult to pull off because in most cases, it can be offensive, inaccurate, and outright ridiculous. Also, refrain dressing up as controversial figures as it may spark unwanted conversations.

Select a more neutral or safe costume, such as positive idols in pop culture like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the Cast of Orange is the New Black, Business cow-usual, The Office characters, Snow White & her 7 paralegals (lawyers, medical or admin assistants), Disney characters, or emoji characters.

What not to wear includes: inappropriate costumes depicting cultural, transgender, pink-slip, black-face, dark-face, ethnic, national origin, racial, religion, mock the human body, sexual, overly revealing costumes. For example, Hugh Hefner, playboy bunnies, parodying a co-worker, or using imitation accessories such as weapons, guns, swords, or knives.

3. Be A Welcoming Colleague

Not everyone celebrates Halloween. Give your colleagues space, respect your office policy, and the supervisors who provide guidance. As millennials we have the freedom to participate or not. Many workplaces announce it will be an inclusive celebration/event to foster a welcoming environment for everyone.

4.  “I probably shouldn’t say this but…”

If you think you shouldn’t say it, then follow your instincts. Avoid saying phrases such as the above because it can get ugly really fast. If you have a question, ask a trusted colleague. Don’t try to defend yourself by declaring what you’re not and then asking a question that may be contradictory to the preceding statement.

5. Respect Different Cultures

It’s important to respect different cultures. If a colleague shows up wearing traditional clothing, ask appropriate questions to learn about the culture. Respect is universally understood across all cultures, races, and ethnicities. You can demonstrate this by listening to the other person. Refrain from making unpleasant facial expressions whenever something different comes up in conversation as your body language communicates rude and uncompromising signals.

We all come from varying cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. It’s important to avoid stereotyping groups and to open-up the workspace as a welcoming and safe environment for all. Implement these steps to approach these intercultural aspects during Halloween among the millennial generation.