For an introvert, going to a party filled with people you don't really know (and/or work with) can be both stressful and tiring - to the point where you'd rather be anywhere else, including the moon.
This particular time of year can be especially stressful, with company Christmas parties, family parties, and old friends showing up in town and throwing even more parties. Here are a few tips to help you navigate uncomfortable, awkward, or just plain old normal people-filled events.
There are a few things that you can do before the party to prepare, ultimately (hopefully) making the actual event that much easier.
- Find out what to wear. There are few things more awkward than showing up in jeans when it's a black tie affair - except maybe showing up naked.
- Plan conversation topics ahead of time. You can even do research on something if you are certain the other party-goers will be discussing it (such as sports, something about which I know nothing, but people always like to discuss).
- Projects at work
- Know what is inappropriate to talk about - office politics, awkward medical problems (especially if you meet a doctor), and marital issues are all poor conversation choices.
- Take a date. If you have a spouse or a friend that is willing to go, take them so you always have somebody to talk to.
- Find out who is going to be there - this way, you can more easily plan topics of conversation, as well as potentially have some friends who will make it a little easier for you.
During the Party
- Be courageous!
- Don't arrive first.
- Don't arrive extremely late.
- Don't get drunk.
- Start by talking to someone you know; look for opportunities for them to introduce you to other people - so you don't have to take as much initiative.
- To involve yourself in a conversation, walk by the circle of people at a tangent, so someone will see you and let you in.
- Ask people about themselves.
- How did you like living in X location?
- What do you think of X project?
- Have you heard about X event in X location?
- Do you have kids?
- What is your job?
- To escape from an awkward conversation:
- Always carry a glass and keep it 1/3 full (alcohol is probably a bad choice of beverage for this trick.) Then, you can always say, "I need to go refill my glass."
- You can't visit the bathroom too many times, especially if you're keeping your glass 1/3 full.
- Let someone else into the conversation; then the circle of people can split like an amoeba into two conversations.
- Get an extrovert buddy. This person can help you escape from conversations, give you someone to talk to if you've been wandering around helplessly for too long, and/or can intervene in conversations that need a bit of livening up. They can also introduce you to new people, which will take a little pressure off of you for initiating the first exchange.
- Talk to a lot of different people for shorter periods of time. This may seem intimidating, but it allows you to only need two or three conversation topics which you can use repeatedly.
- Ask your extrovert buddy how you did.
- Make note of things to do and/or not to do again.
- Go to bed.
- Take some time to yourself to recover.