Five Ways to Take the Awkward out of Holiday Parties

Holiday parties can be more awkward than meeting the parents. Follow these tips and you can be confident in your approach — and even make holiday parties an enjoyable (and beneficial) experience.

Five Ways to Feel More Confident

1. Be “The Friendly Face.” Instead of looking for the friendly face, get comfortable being the friendly face. Look for a person standing alone and strike up a conversation or invite them to join your group. Adopting this tactic instantly takes the pressure off of finding someone to talk with and gives you something to focus on if approaching others makes you uncomfortable.

2. Tongue-tied? Prepare a list of topics. Come up with a list of things to talk about, and think about your answers to potential questions on those topics. Think of your favorite podcasts, vacations and books ahead of time so you’re prepared to make recommendations, ask questions and be comfortable without fear of running out of things to discuss.

3. Stay upbeat. This is a party, after all. Keep conversations positive. Don’t complain about work and never (ever) talk negatively about other colleagues, clients or, really, anyone. The world is much smaller than you think and you never know how others are connected.

4. Practice. The best way to take care of holiday party jitters is to practice delivering a few rehearsed lines with confidence. That’s really all it takes to trick your brain into being confident and relaxing. Whether it’s with someone you trust, in the mirror or in the car on your way to the party, taking the time to practice is one of the smartest ways to invest in your professional development.

5. Know how to make a graceful exit. Nobody likes to hang out in the awkward space between having nothing else to talk about and finally making your exit. Know when to end it — and have a few key phrases lined up. “So glad we connected.” Or: “It was great catching up. I have a few other people to catch up with.”

Before you make your final exit from the party, be sure to find your host and thank them. You’ll stand out because so many people don’t.

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