‘Tis the season, right? Even this extrovert felt a bit lost at a holiday party last night where she didn’t know a soul. I found myself resisting the urge to check my iPhone and pushed myself to engage with a nearby group of folks who all seemed to know each other.
The party was hosted by Dana Barrett and biz1190 WAFS. Dana is the terrific radio host of an intelligent daily radio show in Atlanta about all things business. Many of those in attendance had been guests on the show and had stories to tell. The conversations ended up being so enlightening. I learned about the challenges of being one of 3 senior women in an insurance company and about a local kinder, more constructive Shark Tank that matches start-ups with venture capitalists.
Interestingly enough, most of the people I spoke with described themselves as introverts and admitted to being anxious and uncomfortable. I think that holiday party anxiety binds us all together. No one likes the awkwardness that does not seem to diminish with a drink in hand.
How timely! I was pleased to see a helpful email arrive in my inbox this morning from my good friend and colleague, speech coach and author David Greenberg. Here are David’s tips for surviving holiday parties plus one of my own. Can you add any to the list?
At this time of year, it seems that people often fit into one of two categories — those who enjoy attending holiday parties and those who don’t. Here are a few communication tips to use at these parties, especially company parties:
Tip #1: To help you remember someone’s name, repeat the name as soon as you hear it — “Nice to meet you, Sandi.”
Tip #2: If you forget someone’s name (and most of us do), confess as soon as you realize you’ve forgotten it. We often forget the name in the first few minutes. The longer we wait to ask, the more awkward it is to ask. Keep in mind, the other person has probably already forgotten your name, too.
Tip #3: Make others feel important by using one of the techniques I teach in our workshops. I call it ‘The You Factor.’ Be aware of the number of times you use the words “I” and “me” and instead increase your use of the word “you.” For example, if someone tells you about his or her work, rather than responding with a statement about your work, say something like, “Sue, you really have an exciting job. How did you get into that field?”
Tip #4: If you wish to end a conversation, use the “Compliment, Need, Compliment” technique: “Mike, you’ve really done some great things this year. I need to say hello to some other people. I really enjoyed chatting with you” or “Richard, thanks for telling me about your family. I need to let you mingle with others. Again, I enjoyed getting to know you better.” Other needs might include using the restroom, getting something to eat, or refreshing your drink.
Tip #5: Take breaks from the action to recharge. Try the bathroom or a stroll outside, weather permitting. I took a few breaks last night, especially to admire the beautiful setting we were in at Callanwolde, the former home of Howard Candler, the oldest son of the founder of Coca-Cola, Asa Candler. I met Chip, a staff member who explained that the room we were standing in was used as a bowling alley back in Candler’s time. Chip also knew the former Executive Director, Dr. Sam Goldman, a grad student of my husband Bill’s who passed away 3 years ago. Sam had built Callanwolde into a vibrant community arts center and Sam’s spirit and gentle nature hovered in the room as we shared stories about him.
So consider these holiday parties an opportunity to learn, meet new, interesting people and expand your world. And take heart – solitude awaits you on the other side of the evening. 🙂
Reprint permission granted in part or whole when the following credit appears: Reprinted with permission from David Greenberg’s Simply Speaking, Inc. 1-888-773-2512 or 404-518-7777 http://www.simplyspeakinginc.com