During these cold, dark fall and winter months, you probably feel like hibernating. After all, you spend all day working hard dealing with clients, pets, and coworkers—sometimes the last thing you want to do is be social. But 'tis the season to be jolly, right?
So before you pass up a holiday gathering in favor of your DVR and a Snuggie, consider these tips from Martin Antony, PhD, a psychology professor at Ryerson University who studies social anxiety. They will make the social season a little less stressful—and maybe even fun.
If you’re not sure what to wear to a work function, ask someone who attended last year, or ask the person in charge of planning the event. If in doubt, Antony says, stick with business casual. Don’t wear dirty scrubs—or even clean ones for that matter.
Work the room
When you’re at a party with coworkers, it can be hard to find something to talk about outside of the realm of work—that’s normal. Antony suggests that once you arrive at a party, circle the room. This gives you a chance to hear what folks are talking about, and then you can join a conversation that interests you.
Untie your tongue
If all else fails, ask questions to get other people talking—and remember to listen. Ask a coworker about his or her experiences and major life events in the last year. Maybe your coworker’s son is coming home from college for the first time or your boss’ wife just had a baby. Once you get the other person talking, you'll have a chance to share your own experiences.
A work party is as much about office politics as it is about being social and having fun, so remember to greet the boss when you arrive and be sure thank him or her for throwing the bash before you leave.
Above all else, remember to smile and enjoy yourself in moderation. You’ve worked hard all year—you deserve it!