Everything boils down to good conversation.
Office parties are often a crescent of forced fun, where CEOs cheerily greet employees they’d usually just ignore.
That said, office parties can be like fruitcake — sure, it seems like a good idea to mix fruit and nuts together with some booze, but the results can be less than tasty. Why?
Blame it on conversation or the lack of it.
Surveys have shown that the biggest fear for a lot of people is speaking in public, and small groups can be just as intimidating as big ones. While some people are Renoirs, masters of the finer details of social grace, most of us emulate Jackson Pollock (pun intended), flicking paint at the canvas and praying it sells.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of social problems people have with parties. The first is that a lot of people don’t like them that much. They find parties boring, stressful and draining. They want to know how to avoid them or minimize the damage if they have to go to one.
The second issue is when someone wants to go to a party and socialize at it, but they’re not sure how to do that. I happen to belong to the 2nd category.
And here’s how to breeze through tough party situations and still make a good impression:
Be the Uncrowned Expert of Conspiracy Theories
Conspiracy theories are a sure shot way to make an indelible mark in an office party.
No one can prove them. No one can disprove them either. And that confusion becomes your advantage.
Man never made it to the moon.
The government is always watching (which, admittedly, has some truth to it)
We’ll never know who really shot Malcolm X.
And so on…
Read voraciously and arm yourself with every conspiracy theory under the sun. Play devil’s advocate, switch sides, pump sides and keep a serious poker face while speaking.
Trust me, your popularity will touch the seven skies by the time the party is over.
Talking about Trump Always Works
Everybody hates him. Some like him. But all love talking about him. That is the amazing charisma surrounding Trump.
Whether your colleagues are griping about immigration problems, ferreting out racism in politics, or grumbling about what the president should be doing “for the white community,” the conversation will drag on for ages and will be split into at least two camps (the more camps, the merrier).
It’s in these conversations that your colleagues really show their true colors, turning a relaxing day into an outdoor cable-news debate.
Needless to say, you become a moderator, anchor and anger-controller all rolled in one.
Be an Agony Aunt (or Uncle)
One of the interesting things about this profession is that you need to be accepted as an agony aunt (or uncle). Once you are accepted, you are the most powerful person in the universe.
There are two basic prerequisites to be an agony aunt (or uncle).
· You are really bad at gossip.
· You don’t display the judgmental reactions that others show.
And as for the “advising” bit — don’t even stress about that.
Most people really don’t want advice, they just want a non-judgmental ear to bounce their issues off so that they can verbalize them explicitly without having to talk to themselves aloud. Then, they can think more clearly about solutions.
So the best advice to give them is none — just let them ramble with an occasional prompt to get them to clearly identify their problem so they can find solutions available to them in their lives.
Do Not Play Games (Literally)
Games (any kind) bring the best and worst out of people and colleagues are no different.
Any game — water balloon toss, basketball, bid whist, hopscotch may look harmless on the surface but you never know when things can take a serious turn. There’s often an unwritten legacy invested in these competitions and you don’t want to send the legacy of your respective side of the office department (read ego) down in flames.
So host any game by all means, but do not participate. Your reputation and future course of relationships depend on it.
And When Things Become Too Hot to Handle…
Clam your mouth shut and be silent.
Speech is silver, but silence is golden.
Words are like bullets; they could hit hard. They can cause pain and hurt to the listener that may be irreversible. When words cross the line of self-respect, they worsen the situation. In order to save oneself from the repulsive effects of the unscrupulous use of words, it is better to learn to exercise control over what one says.
So what do you do at a party when there’s someone there with whom you’ve had an unresolved conflict? Just be polite. This is not the time to rehash old conflicts, as such conversations often get messy before they get resolved — if they get resolved.
As Desmond Tutu has rightly said.
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Life Is Short So Party We Must”.
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