As we approach the final crush of holiday parties, I am watching my introverted colleagues show signs of strain. They know that it’s socially and politically important to see and be seen at these events, but many really, really just want to stay home. I am somewhere in the middle between an introvert and an extrovert, so while I’m good at working a party, certain guest combinations can suck the psychic energy out of me. In today’s post, I’ll offer a few tips for navigating the party scene.
• Ask your host if she or he needs help with set up or serving. “Working” the party can give you something important to do and an opportunity to interact with others in a natural way. If you come early to do this, your host will have time to introduce you to the first sets of guests to arrive.
• Inquire about the guest list in advance and make it your mission to introduce yourself to two people who seem interesting. It’s easy. “I’m YOUR NAME and I have always wanted to meet you.” Who could be put off by that?
• If you don’t have a partner, or your partner’s not keen on the party crowd, ask if you can bring a friend or colleague who might enjoy interacting with some of the guests.
• Stand by the bookshelf and discuss your host’s reading tastes with those around you.
• Try walking outside; there you’ll often find a fellow introvert trying to decompress from people overload.
• Hang out in the kitchen and just listen to everyone else talk.
• Volunteer to serve as the official photographer.
• Hang out with the pets and other pet people will join you for conversations that do not involve departmental politics.
What strategies have you used to make it through challenging social functions?