It’d be amazing, but probably don’t do it the way Bridget Jones did.
The idea of going to work events fills many of us with dread. Some peeps seem to embrace it, gliding in and out of conversations no matter how tall/puffy-chested/boring/serious/senior/crazy-eyed the other person is.
Others stand there awkwardly with a glass in hand, or stick with the crew, avoiding the new.
But the work holiday party is the perfect opportunity to practise some key skills to pay the bills.
No matter if you’re after a promotion or you’re planning your exit, practice is how to make the hard stuff easier. Plus it’s a unique opportunity to build relationships with colleagues — at any level.
Here are some tips on handling the rest of the party season.
Have a mission
Instead of feeling like you have to be there, go with a clear intention. It might be that you’ll talk to two new people. Identify who they are. It could be a peer you hardly know, or your boss’s boss’s boss.
Do a bit of homework, like remembering if they’ve mentioned a hobby or holiday.
Don’t talk shop
We find it jarring when we don’t know someone and they dive straight into asking what we do. Work doesn’t define who you are, and it doesn’t define who most other (interesting) people are.
If you don’t want to talk about the company’s financial objectives or strategy next year, chances are they won’t.
Ask questions and find some common ground. A safe start is, ‘What are you doing these holidays?’. Then you can move onto ‘craziest holiday party stories?’.
Get out of boring/awkward convos
We’ve all been there, stuck talking to someone who is either dull as sh*t, or even worse, is dull as sh*t but thinks they’re smarter than Stephen Hawking. BORING.
If you’ve given the conversation a red hot go, but can’t take it anymore, the never-fail trick we use is to say, ‘I’m just going to get another drink, excuse me’.
Stand without a drink in hand, or if you do have one, swig the pop so you can move on. You can also replace ‘get another drink’ to ‘the bathroom’.
You’ll probably need to go to the bathroom anyway if you’re holding a drink and find yourself in multiple eyeroll-worthy conversations.
Get in early, before conversations become slobbery and slurred. Fulfil your mission then you can get outta there and hang with your peeps/Netflix. If it’s a lunch, get there on time and pick where you sit.
Everybody likes a person who’s polite. Thank the boss/whoever is throwing this shindig.
The two people you met today? Send them a quick email or LinkedIn message within the first 24 hours, letting them know you enjoyed meeting them and wishing them a happy holiday season. This is also the time to ask them for a coffee early in the new year.
Remember it doesn’t have to feel natural when you’re doing this. It takes practice. You may not enjoy it, but we like to view it with a growth mindset — that every opportunity to improve is a useful opportunity for ourselves.
Now go forth and work that holiday partay!
Jacqui Park is a co-founder of Honest Money + lead financial advisor. She worked in investment management before getting fed up, publishing her thesis in economic sociology at MIT. She consults on leadership with listed companies + was a Said Scholar at Oxford. She’s looking forward to the day where she doesn’t have to list her credentials to prove her legitimacy.