Nicolle Lowrey

How to mingle at a work party

Work parties can be a daunting experience for the low social energy person.

The thought of skipping a work party for comfy PJ’s and a glass of wine on the sofa has tempted me before. Us low social energy people crave our downtime to unwind. However, skipping every work party can have a negative impact on our business future.

We never know when a simple conversation could be the catalyst for a future workgroup opportunity, new client, or a promotion.

What keeps a low social energy person from jumping up and down when the invite hits our email?

We worry about who we’re going to talk to at the work party. We dread endless small talk about the weather. Lastly, we over-analyze what we’ll say in each social exchange.

By that time, we’re too exhausted to go.

Before I discovered the secrets to mingling at a work party, I tossed the invitation in the nearest trashcan. If I somehow convinced myself to go, I headed to a chair by the wall and kept my head stuck in my phone. However, not all work party conversations have to center around the amount of rain we’ve had or whether the sun is going to break through the clouds. It is possible to have a deep and meaningful conversation at a work party. The key is not to throw the invitation away and learn to mingle effectively.

What does effective mingling at a work party look like? Successful mingling at a work party makes it look like we are an open, friendly, and engaged person. Whereas ineffective mingling, i.e., no mingling, implies that we are insecure or think we’re better than the others in attendance.

So, how can we mingle effectively at a work party? To mingle effectively, there are several tips to improve our chances of being successful. As a result, we can not only navigate the event, but we can enjoy ourselves and not dread the next invitation. What is the most important thing about a work party? We must go to the event and dress appropriately based on the instructions in the invitation. One time I went to a work event and realized halfway through the work party that I had on one blue shoe and one black shoe. Granted, they were both the same style of shoe, but talk about awkward!

Have a Goal

The first tip for successful mingling at a work party is to identify a goal. Of course, a lot of this will be determined by who is on the guest list and whether we know all the attendees.

Do I want to meet a certain number of people? Have I always wanted to speak in person with a specific client? Is there a co-worker that I’ve never met, but I was inspired by an article or email that they wrote and distributed?

The only way to know if our mingling is successful is to establish a goal and achieve it.

Warm Up

One potential way to prepare to mingle at a work party is to practice mingling earlier in the day. We can spend some time with our friends talking, chat with the gas station attendant, or participate in an engaging conversation with one of our co-workers that we’re comfortable with. The goal is to feel comfortable talking before branching out to people we don’t know.

Choose Our First Introduction

When I go to a work party, I like to approach someone who makes me feel comfortable first. This eases the tension. One way to do this is to look for someone else that is on the outskirts of the group and approach them. Not only does this make me feel more at ease, but I also get to help someone else who is feeling uncomfortable. With that first social exchange out of the way, it is easier to approach the next person.

Introduce Ourselves

If I don’t know a person that I want to meet, I introduce myself. To properly introduce ourselves, we must provide our name and office department. We can’t forget to small and give a solid handshake.

Ask Questions

After introducing ourselves, we need to ask the person questions. People are attracted to confidence and genuine interest. If the person is one of the clients for the business that we work for, we could ask about their products, how they chose their line of work, or when and why they began doing business with our company. How about if the person is a co-worker? Similar questions work for a co-worker as well. We could focus our questions about their length of service, why they chose to work for the business, or even what they enjoy doing outside of work.

We don’t have to be bogged down with endless chit-chat about how much it snowed or how dry it is. Many low social energy people find small talk annoying, so it is best to encourage a more meaningful conversation. Unless there is a threat of a tornado or another weather apocalypse, no one really wants to talk about the weather.

Politely End the Conversation

Once we’ve introduced ourselves and chatted for a few minutes, we must politely end the conversation. This does not mean we trail off our last sentence and walk away. It is rude to walk away without acknowledging the person. I prefer to say, “It was a pleasure to meet you. Thanks for taking time out of your night to speak with me.”

Avoid Overindulgence

Another tip for effective office party mingling is to avoid too much alcohol. As an employee, we reflect our company. By getting drunk and saying or doing inappropriate things, we could be subject to discipline. Not to mention, the purpose of the party was to meet people and present a respectable image. Vomiting, falling, or bad-mouthing the boss, were not our identified goals for the evening.

What do you think of my recommendations? Do you think they will make your work parties more comfortable? When you think back to a time you were comfortable starting a conversation with a new person at a work party, were you following any of these tips? I look forward to hearing your comments below!

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  1. Anonymous

    Really appreciate your thoughts