Now, we have given you tips on how to handle an office Christmas party, but what if you are not so socially inclined?
Generally, Christmas is a joyful time, especially when it comes to the long awaited holiday office party. However this isn’t the case for everyone, especially when you ask the office ‘wallflower’.
For the shy people out there, work parties can be nothing more then an anxiety ridden few hours around the food table. Thanks to The Cut here are a few tricks shy people can keep in their back pocket during the end of year festivities.
When you know the venue, there’s less sensory overload and thus you’re less likely to feel out of place. You’ve been there before, after all. Getting familiar with your surroundings in advance of the event can help put you at ease, Thompson says. Pro tip: Volunteer to help put up holiday decorations. This way, you get to know the venue and you’re the super-helpful employee.
Once you’re at the venue, it’s natural for shy or introverted people to avoid the center of the room and hang out in the perimeter observing, but that could actually make your anxiety worse. In the periphery, you’re singling yourself out and away from everyone, which might actually make you feel like there’s a spotlight on you, as opposed to being lost in the crowd. (Of course, if large crowds make you anxious, your mileage may vary on this one.)
2. Rehearse your conversations
It seems ridiculous to rehearse something as trivial as small talk, but many shy people get anxious over what to say, and practicing your conversation can help you mentally prepare, says David Bennett, a certified counselor and relationship expert. This way, you’re less distracted by the thought of effectively breaking the ice. And since you’ve rehearsed your conversations, you’re less likely to ruminate over them later. “Practicing conversations and coming up with good responses can help you be ready for a whole host of scenarios,” he adds. “Also, this will help shy people think through how to handle possible social scenarios, like what you’ll do if your boss walks up and starts talking to you.”
And if you do want to get face time with the boss, no need to feel pressured to have a long, drawn-out conversation. “Make it quick and simple,” says Laura MacLeod, a licensed master social worker and human resources expert. You can check in with something simple like, This is a great party. Thanks so much. Hope you have a terrific holiday. “The idea here is to connect — show appreciation and good wishes, all about the other person, and move on,” MacLeod says.
3. Dress the part
As a shy person, I tend to avoid being the center of attention, so naturally, I don’t put much thought into what I wear. Here’s the thing, though: Holiday parties typically require some style effort, and because clothing is an afterthought, I usually end up feeling out of place, which still makes me worry the attention is on me. So when I’m chatting with a colleague, all I can think is, Geez, why did I wear this pit-stained button-up?
When you feel like you look your best, you’re not thinking about how you look at all. This gives you the mental bandwidth to focus on other things, like having good conversations with co-workers in which you actually pay attention to what they’re saying instead of focusing on your stained shirt.
4. Pretend to be a journalist
It can also help to navigate the party with an observant eye, sort of like a journalist. “Become someone who is genuinely curious about subtle relational dynamics. Wonder to yourself why [that person] keeps looking around the room, for example,” said Karen Osterle, a licensed psychotherapist and marriage counselor in Washington, D.C. “As a student at this event, you have at least one thing to learn from almost anyone you observe or interact with.”
Shy people tend to be natural observers, anyway, so just go with it. It doesn’t hurt to be friendly, but go ahead and claim your shyness and soft-spoken demeanor, Osterle suggests. “If you can fully accept and embrace this, you can allow yourself to be more comfortable and less apologetic.” Once you’re more comfortable, you send subtle cues to others that they can relax around you, too.
Finally, remember: Everyone is uncomfortable. As someone who all too often has her camera focused inward, one of the best pieces of social awkwardness advice I’ve ever received is: No one cares. “Once you get past the idea that people are not going to judge you, your shyness will fade,” Thompson says. “People are more interested in how they come across at the event than assessing your performance. There’s no need to act.”