How to enjoy office parties as an introvert

How people gain energy — introversion and extroversion — affects socialization and careers. When it comes to office parties, can introverts pull through?

While Christmas is most people’s favorite holiday, many people dread the holidays. Some find it difficult to be around family while others feel lonely when they’re still on the market — and then there are those who find the Christmas season painful due to the hours of socializing.

How people gain energy — introversion and extroversion — affects socialization and even careers. In the U.S. workforce, introverts can feel like they fade into the background, but studies show that introverts have a subtle power and may perform better than extroverts in the workplace. When it comes to office parties, can introverts pull through once again and find success?

Whether you are an introvert who gets drained from too much human interaction or you have social anxieties, office parties can be a looming inconvenience during your holiday season. Even if you’re a little shy, you can feel intimidated by holding a conversation with your coworkers. Here are 6 ways for introverts to have a good time at an office party during the holidays.

1. Find the Benefits of the Party

Before the dread sets in or you overthink how a conversation could go wrong, brainstorm the positive things about the party. Positive thinking can impact your experience and your ability to cope with stress, so put it into practice. Find out all the details of the party early on so you can pinpoint the best parts, like the music or location.

If you know the food or beverages will be free and fully stocked, you can be prepared to appreciate the night rather than tolerate it. Make reminders for yourself on your phone about the plus side to your office extravaganza.

2. Grab a Buddy to Stick With

Walking into an office party alone can be uncomfortable, but bringing along a friend or planning to meet your favorite coworker beforehand can improve the night. You and your desk buddy can plan to carpool together. You’ll feel more at ease when you have a friend to talk to in the crowded room.

Introverts tend to prefer a few intimate friends to a large group of people, so even one person to hang around at an office party makes a big difference.

3. Try to Smile and Make Eye Contact

When you’ve spoken to many people at the party and your energy levels start to tank, you can start to look distant and cold. Introverts may not pick up on their facial expression, but it can cause people to think they aren’t up for talking.

Body language is an unconscious indicator for social interactions, which helps people feel connected. Try to smile and make eye contact to be friendly. When you smile at someone it encourages them to feel welcome and keep a conversation flowing.

4. Take Breaks From the Crowd

The noise and an overwhelming number of people can start to get to you after a while. Instead of leaving the party immediately, you can take a timeout. Go to a quiet corner or walk outside for a break from the chaos.

Breaks can refresh your brain and restore your motivation. Even escaping to a different room in your building or the bathroom can be helpful. If you need to call someone to vent or sit down, this can help you make it through the rest of the night.

5. Keep a Conversation up With Questions

If you have a hard time speaking up at work, carrying on a conversation may not be your favorite thing. You may not be able to gather the mental energy to figure out a clever joke or tell an elaborate story after the first five conversations. But if you get other people talking, you won’t have to.

You can keep up a conversation by asking questions and listening to the answers. Find out about your coworker’s life by letting curiosity flow and using open-ended questions. People enjoy talking about themselves, and you can even share about your own life if they turn the questions around.

6. Give Yourself a Time Limit

Give the office party a chance by setting a time limit. This allows you to make the most of your time and it gives you confidence to know you don’t have to stay forever. Make plans with a friend or family member for right after your time limit so you have a non-negotiable appointment that friendly coworkers can’t argue with. You can survive a party for an hour or two, and the promise of freedom will keep you going through any difficult parts.

Make the Most of Your Holiday Office Celebration

While an office party during the holidays can be challenging for shy people, you can have a fun time by trying these tips. When you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can better handle a night of socialization as an introvert.

Have you found helpful ways to make it through an office party this holiday season? Comment below to share your advice for introverted workers. Share this article with other introverts in your life and subscribe for more information about navigating the workplace.

This article was originally published on Punched Clocks.