By Yvonne Milosevic
For introverts, the upcoming holiday season and its bursting social calendar brings with it a certain amount of dread. (We’re looking at you, office holiday party.) Attendance at this annual fête is de rigueur in the eyes of most managers. While you might prefer to take a hard pass on these soirees with coworkers, doing so could adversely affect your workplace relationships—and career.
If you regularly skip your company’s social events, you’ll likely find yourself left out of office friendships. Worse, you might jeopardize possible promotions or pay raises if management perceives you as cold and antisocial.
Mind you, introversion is not synonymous with shyness. The introvert/extrovert dichotomy has to do with how we get our energy tank filled. Extroverts recharge and get energized from social situations. Introverts, meanwhile, feel drained by these encounters. To recharge their batteries, introverts need quiet and solitude.
Make peace with the fact that you are going to the office shindig this year. Now, here’s your action plan to survive—and, dare we hope, enjoy—the experience.
Tip #1 Focus on the positive
Having a positive mindset can help you focus more on the potential upsides of the experience. Will the party have good food and libations? Is the location cool or unique? Maybe this a perfect excuse to dress a little “extra” and show coworkers you’re not always bumming it in jeans and a T-shirt. Or, perhaps an opportunity like this will give you a chance to get to know a new coworker on the team. Finding something to look forward to might make the office party better than bearable.
Tip #2 Arrive early
It’s tempting to arrive fashionably late, thereby cutting down on time you’ll have to spend feeling awkward. But with that strategy, you’re walking into the precise environment—crowded, lots of conversations flowing—that makes you peak uncomfortable. By arriving on time or a bit early, you’ll have far fewer people to interact with and can ease into party mode as the event heats up.
Tip #3 Have a wingman/woman
If the thought of walking into the office party alone seems uncomfortable, consider bringing a friend. Or if plus-ones are discouraged, make plans to carpool or meet up with your favorite office pal. Introverts naturally prefer one-on-one and small group conversations. Having a friend by your side in a crowded room can go a long way toward making the night much more fun.
Tip #4 Take timeouts as needed
We’re not suggesting that you camp out in the bathroom all night. But there’s no shame in taking periodic breaks from the action to recharge. Whether that means sneaking into the stall for some deep breathing exercises or finding a quiet spot away from the crowds outside, these small timeouts will help you reenergize. After a few minutes, you’ll feel ready to get back to the festivities.
Tip #5 Let people talk about themselves
They say extroverts talk so they can think, and introverts think so they can talk. Tap into the introvert’s famed listening skills and ask your fellow partygoers open-ended questions that can lead to more lively conversation. When you show genuine curiosity about what other people have to say, it helps take the spotlight off you. Your thoughtfulness will make a positive impression and can help strengthen your workplace relationships. A win-win.
Tip #6 Plan your escape
Give yourself permission to leave the party early if you’re feeling drained. In fact, going into the office party with a hard departure time already in mind makes the experience much more tolerable for introverts. If you only have to mingle and chitchat for two hours, it’s easier to stay engaged knowing that freedom is almost at hand. Remember your manners, though. As much as you’d like to slip away quietly into the night, make sure to say goodbye to the people you’ve interacted with the most.
Tip #7 Build in time to recharge before, and after, the party.
You already know the office holiday bash is going to suck the energy right out of you. That’s why you should make sure to schedule downtime before and after the event. You’ll need to top off your reserves beforehand to get through the party. Then, you’re going to need to replenish your energy supply before going out into the world again. Whether it’s with a good book, sleep, music, Netflix binging, etc., indulge yourself. It’s easier to face life’s inevitable social situations—like the office holiday party—when you practice self-care.
Introverts may never fully embrace these types of crowded social situations, and that’s okay. With a few helpful strategies like these in your back pocket, no one has to know you’re not totally down for mega-watt merriment.
We’d love to hear your strategies for surviving office parties as an introvert! Leave us a note below with your sage advice to help others out there in the same boat.