DEAR CAREER ANGEL: I'm dreading my office party

A nervous worker is nervous of socialising outside the office. How does she embrace the Christmas spirit?

by Penny Davenport
Last Updated: 28 Nov 2013

Dear Career Angel,

I dread this time of year! I have an office party coming up and a couple of client events but I am so shy that I never enjoy myself and can’t wait for them to be over. Do you have any advice for me?

Maria, Leeds

Dear Maria,

Sometimes I wonder why we bother with office parties. There are so many people like you who dread them, and of course, those at the other end of the spectrum who won’t be able to show their face the next day! Anyway, it’s a tradition to share a drink, and maybe a dance, with colleagues and clients at this time of year, so here are a few simple tips to help you survive.

To anyone who hates going to any kind of party or work event, I would suggest meeting up with a friend or good colleague beforehand. Having a morale-booster at your side will give you confidence entering the room; much better than going alone. Of course, a quick drink with them also helps to stiffen your resolve.

Woman to woman, make sure you feel good as well. Plan your outfit to give you a boost but do keep your look work-appropriate.

If you are not a natural conversationalist, prepare a few topics in advance such as, 'Do you have plans for New Year?' or 'Are you watching The Tunnel / X Factor?'. Before you know it, you’ll be chatting away and having a good time.

Be self-deprecating if you have forgotten someone’s name as in, 'You’ll have to forgive me as I’m awful with names / faces'. Your acquaintance will "rescue" you and you can move on with your conversation.

It may sound a little cold but if you’re really dreading an event, set yourself a couple of goals. For example, talk to five new people and have a dance with an old friend. Once you’ve ticked off your goals, you can either go home or let your hair down a bit. But remember never to let your hair down too much at a work event. Stay in control, or at least more in control than everyone else!

Have fun!

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