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James, Import Operations Manager, (Global)
An introverts guide to the office party
Does the phrase “office party” bring you out in a cold sweat? Could you think of nothing worse than making small talk with your colleagues in your own time? If you’re the kind of person that hates such events, this time of year can bring all sorts of unwanted conversations about Christmas Parties just around the corner. We are going to give you some reasons to not dread the office shindig, but to look forward to it, and embrace it!
Go with a friend – If you are in introvert, walking into a room full of people can be really quite intimidating, going with a colleague that you get on particularly well with can make the situation far easier. If you go with someone who has a similar mindset to yourself, you’ll have a kindred spirit who you can feel comfortable being uncomfortable with – safety in numbers after all! Equally going with a more confident friend can be a blessing in disguise, they can lead the conversation and take the pressure from you.
Give yourself a time limit – Just like all things difficult in life, it can really help to break things down. Don’t think to yourself you have hours and hours at a party to get through. Break the evening down, aim to stay until the meal finishes, or the speeches finish, or for an hour or two, and if you are enjoying yourself you can put that time back. Set your self small achievable targets and the chances are you’ll enjoy yourself far more than you expect to and stay around far longer!
Have an escape plan – There is nothing worse than being somewhere and thinking you can’t escape. If you assign yourself the role of designated driver, or invite friends to stay, you’ve no choice but to stay until the end, or at the very least until they are happy to go home too. This added pressure can make the whole event far more stressful than it needs to be. Allow yourself to have an escape plan, and the chances are you won’t even need it.
Take a breather – If you are finding the whole situation overwhelming, there is no shame in nipping to the loo, or popping out for a breather. Collect your thoughts, take some deep breaths, and set yourself an achievable target like we’ve already talked about.
Prep – Just like most situations in life, preparation is key. Spending a little time reminding yourself of colleague’s children’s names/interests/football teams can be a great way of keeping the conversation flowing. We are all guilty of hearing things and forgetting, life is busy, so spend a little time doing some background research and you can enter conversations confident that you can keep up the chat.
Arrive earlier – There is nothing worse than walking into a packed room of people and not quite knowing what to do with yourself. Even the most confident of character can find this situation daunting. Making sure you arrive to a party in good time is a great way of easing yourself in talking to small numbers gradually as the people around you increase.
Don’t go – If all else fails, and the thought of going to the party is still causing you far too much stress than you need in your life; don’t go. It’s not compulsory, and your mental health should always be your priority. If you feel like employers will judge you negatively for not attending, then honesty is your best policy; talk to them about how you are feeling and explain your reasons for not attending. Most people are understanding of these struggles and you will not be judged for it.