How to Navigate the Christmas Party as an Introvert

people drink beer cheer celebrate christmas party
by Blisspot Wellbeing

The office Christmas party is one of the rare occasions when employees get a chance to let their hair down and shake up the daily grind.

Not everyone is a social butterfly. Some people would rather be curled up alone with a good book than ensconced at a festive gathering. So how then, do you endure an event that your psyche has hardwired you to dread?

Here’s How the Office Christmas Party can be the Best Yet:

1) Attend the Office Christmas Party: It may seem an obvious suggestion considering the purpose of this article but a common strategy people utilise when confronting their problems is to avoid them entirely. You COULD choose to stay home, but you lose the chance to gain any benefits from the event.

Attending the event gives your comfort-zone a shake-up and allows you to experience new and exciting opportunities. If socializing is something you find difficult, then view the situation like a game; how many people with Santa hats can I say hello to? What’s one question I can ask one person? My anxiety wants me to stay at the party for 10 minutes, can I try and stay for 15? What about half an hour?

By introducing games like this, you are allowing yourself to view an otherwise nerve-wracking situation as a bit of fun. Life is supposed to be played with!

2) Get in and Mingle: The Christmas party is a fantastic opportunity to get to know your colleagues better. If your office is especially large, you will have the chance to engage with people you might only ever see in passing during the week.

It’s not a first date so don’t stress about coming off negatively. Even if you are not especially close to your colleagues, remember they are not strangers you are meeting for the first time. They know you, and you know them.

People are a lot more friendly than we first think. A lot of the time, your perception of a person is a mirror of your own anxiety. If someone seems standoffish, maybe assess how you feel about yourself. If you feel uneasy or anxious, then your mood could be affecting how people respond to you. Take a moment to stand up tall, smile at yourself in the mirror and say in your head, “I am wonderful and I deserve to be loved”. Giving yourself a positive affirmation like this changes the thought process in your brain to think happier thoughts. This will then translate to how you interact with others.

Take a chance with someone, and the results might just surprise you.

3) You Don’t Have to Make Friends: Having friends is nice but having the right friends is fantastic. Don’t feel like you have to become BFFs with all your co-workers. If you share nothing but your profession in common, then there may be no opportunity for mutual benefit. But that is ok. There can be an immense social pressure to get along with everyone you work with. If people are always attending after-work drinks, but you don’t feel comfortable joining them, then that is perfectly normal. As long as you are making lasting, positive connections with people somewhere in your life, then your workplace can be just that; the place you work.

4) Approach to Alcohol: Anxiety in social settings can drive people to liquid courage, but that is not always the best solution. True, you might engage more than you typically would and have a fantastic time, but that is largely because of the alcohol in your system. By all means, enjoy a drink or two but try not to see alcohol as a security blanket. It isn’t a healthy coping mechanism in the long run and can lead to mental and physical unhappiness.

By keeping a clear head, you can claim absolute credit for any social milestones you shatter! You won’t necessarily turn into an extrovert overnight, but you will be better equipped to handle future social events because you know you were able to do it all by yourself.

5) Have Something in your Hand: Food and drink are a wonderful bonus at the Christmas Party. By holding a glass or plate in one of your hands, you may feel more relaxed while you mingle and be less inclined to fidget. Having your hands full gives you something to do, plus the drink or food you’re holding may be a great conversation starter. People find it easy to talk about food, even if it’s to be pointed in the direction of the buffet table. Holding something is a useful starting tactic, and as the evening proceeds, you may be able to eventually cope without it, giving you free hands to hug and take down the numbers of your new work friends!.

6) See the Best in your Colleagues: This might sound obvious at first, but it can be easy to put the people you work within little boxes. For example, Julia is the Intern, and Michael is the Copywriter. But that is not what defines them as people. Just like you, your colleagues are humans with individual personalities and values. If you are feeling anxious about the Christmas Party, it’s highly likely you won’t be the only one. Remembering you are not alone can be quite relaxing when you feel out of your comfort zone.

Viewing your colleagues as more than their job title also opens the doors to potential friendships. Julia might have written a book, or Michael used to act in short films. People are a lot more interesting than we first think, so opening yourself up to the possibility that your work colleagues are interesting people will mean they might surprise you.

7) Ask if you can bring a Guest:  A workplace is like a second family for some people and bringing your partner to the Christmas party can have some massive advantages. They provide an extra layer of mental security and will guard you against feelings of vulnerability. But primarily the event serves as a chance to introduce your loved one into your professional life and get them to meet the people you work with. You may not want to intermix your world of work with your home life, and that is perfectly understandable. But dissolving that barrier may help your workmates understand you better, plus offering your partner the opportunity to learn more about you. It is common to have two versions of yourself; one that your workmates see, and one that your partner sees. Allowing people to see both sides of you is a humbling experience that can only strengthen relationships.

8)  It’s Okay to Say No: There is a huge obsession in the Western world with the idea of being a ‘Yes Man’. Saying yes to everything makes you open, fun and improves your life by ten-fold. Apparently. While this is true in some situations, it is also important to listen to your gut. If the idea of being at the Christmas party makes you feel tired, or you feel as if you would be putting on a performance the whole time, then consider not going. Don’t feel you have to force yourself into situations that you don’t feel ready for, no matter how much you feel you will be chastised. Saying no is a great exercise in positive mental health and self-control. Saying no gives you the opportunity to think, “what is it I ACTUALLY want to do tonight?” Making choices based on your gut instinct will mean you will always have a good time.

It’s important to understand that your gut is different from your fight-or-flight instinct. You may feel as if you don’t want to attend the party, but that’s because you have created a story in your head that it will be terrible. Your gut is the voice telling you not to go because you would rather do something else. Be aware of which one you’re listening to.

It is also important to understand that it is ok to RSVP to the event but decide on the night that you don’t want to go. You may disappoint some people, but if it’s a choice between your own happiness and the slight disappointment of a few people, you know which one comes first.

However, if you decide to attend the party then try and have your own experience.

You don’t have to dance, and you don’t have to wear a pointy Christmas hat. Imagine how dull the world would be if everyone were the same. Celebrate the things about yourself that make you different and don’t be afraid to be that person at your office Christmas party.

Authenticity is beautiful!

9) Have Fun: Organised social situations like parties, that meld work with play, can be very awkward to navigate. Doing the best you can is all anyone can ask for! Experiment with yourself and your limits but above all, enjoy yourself. Life is full of unexpected and wonderful opportunities to be open to embracing all that you can.

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