How to get through social activities at work (when you don’t feel like it)
Although many people prefer to keep their personal and professional lives separate, socialising often plays an important role in building productive relationships and becoming part of the company community. During the busy holiday season or at other business events, it can be difficult to participate when you have family priorities or other tasks demanding your attention. You might not even be that fond of your coworkers. However, skipping a work-related social activity may raise eyebrows or even be frowned on by supervisors. When you must attend, here are some tips that can help you get through it.
Take a Friend
If the occasion allows you to bring someone, take a friend you feel comfortable with. Although you might prefer taking a date, if you’re not that comfortable at the party or aren’t sure what to expect, you will probably benefit from a friend’s moral support more than from trying to impress someone in whom you are romantically interested. Being with a trustworthy friend may add to your confidence to make you feel more at home with coworkers.
Join the Crowd
With or without a friend, take part in group conversations where you won’t unduly stand out. Feeling as though you are being evaluated by colleagues you might not know well or particularly feel close to can add to your discomfort. Being part of the crowd where you can blend in without drawing unwanted attention will help you to get acclimated to the event as well as enjoy casual conversation that can break the ice or contribute to camaraderie that will carry over into your daily job associations with those persons.
Be a Good Listener
If you are not feeling particularly clever or witty, don’t feel as if you have to crack a joke or say something brilliant. Instead, listen to the other attendees’ conversations and watch how they are perceived. You should be able to pick up on verbal cues and body language that will give you an idea of expected and accepted attitudes and behaviours at the social event. This is one of the key ways that interns and proteges climb the corporate ladder – by observing those who are already there and learning from the way they speak and act around others.
Avoid Questionable Behaviour
Attending a job-related social activity when you don’t really want to be there is not the time to air your grievances or share personal anecdotes that will likely be of little interest to your coworkers. Avoid over-drinking or overeating, which could draw negative attention. Instead, engage moderately in all the social activities without overdoing any of them. Don’t get caught up in gossip or office rumours, which could make you feel worse and perhaps draw critical attention.
Help Behind the Scenes
If you don’t feel like conversing, offer to help with setup, serving, or cleanup. Not only will you be out of the main areas of interaction, but you might also create a favourable impression by helping out in these supportive ways. Often at business-related social events, there is less tension behind the scenes. As you scurry around to get things done, there will be fewer needs for conversation with colleagues.
Going to an office party may not seem like fun. But it provides an opportunity to display your social skills while reinforcing your professional image and relationships. Plan ahead by using tips like these for your next job-related event to make it more palatable and perhaps even enjoyable.