This particular time of year can be especially stressful, with company Christmas parties, family parties, and old friends showing up in town and throwing even more parties. Here are a few tips to help you navigate uncomfortable, awkward, or just plain old normal people-filled events.
There are a few things that you can do before the party to prepare, ultimately (hopefully) making the actual event that much easier.
- Find out what to wear. There are few things more awkward than showing up in jeans when it's a black tie affair - except maybe showing up naked.
- Plan conversation topics ahead of time. You can even do research on something if you are certain the other party-goers will be discussing it (such as sports, something about which I know nothing, but people always like to discuss).
- Projects at work
- Know what is inappropriate to talk about - office politics, awkward medical problems (especially if you meet a doctor), and marital issues are all poor conversation choices.
- Take a date. If you have a spouse or a friend that is willing to go, take them so you always have somebody to talk to.
- Find out who is going to be there - this way, you can more easily plan topics of conversation, as well as potentially have some friends who will make it a little easier for you.
During the Party
- Be courageous!
- Don't arrive first.
- Don't arrive extremely late.
- Don't get drunk.
- Start by talking to someone you know; look for opportunities for them to introduce you to other people - so you don't have to take as much initiative.
- To involve yourself in a conversation, walk by the circle of people at a tangent, so someone will see you and let you in.
- Ask people about themselves.
- How did you like living in X location?
- What do you think of X project?
- Have you heard about X event in X location?
- Do you have kids?
- What is your job?
- To escape from an awkward conversation:
- Always carry a glass and keep it 1/3 full (alcohol is probably a bad choice of beverage for this trick.) Then, you can always say, "I need to go refill my glass."
- You can't visit the bathroom too many times, especially if you're keeping your glass 1/3 full.
- Let someone else into the conversation; then the circle of people can split like an amoeba into two conversations.
- Get an extrovert buddy. This person can help you escape from conversations, give you someone to talk to if you've been wandering around helplessly for too long, and/or can intervene in conversations that need a bit of livening up. They can also introduce you to new people, which will take a little pressure off of you for initiating the first exchange.
- Talk to a lot of different people for shorter periods of time. This may seem intimidating, but it allows you to only need two or three conversation topics which you can use repeatedly.
- Ask your extrovert buddy how you did.
- Make note of things to do and/or not to do again.
- Go to bed.
- Take some time to yourself to recover.