Office Party Anxiety

Tips for Coping With Office Party Anxiety

Survive your next office party despite social anxiety.
Office parties can be stressful. Getty / The Image Bank / Britt Erlanson

Office party anxiety is a problem for everyone; not just those that suffer with social anxiety.

A study of British office workers revealed that nearly two thirds of employees would rather stay home than go to the holiday office party. The same percentage were anxious about making a good impression on superiors and coworkers at the office party.

Handled well, an office party is a chance to get to know your coworkers better and potentially present yourself in a good light to your boss.

Below are some tips to manage office parties when you suffer from social anxiety disorder (SAD).

Meeting New People

You will have a better time and meet more people if you are open and friendly. Even if you feel anxious, do your best to smile, make eye contact and appear approachable.

Conversation Partners

Often it is easiest to join conversations that are already ongoing. It may also be easier to talk with spouses of coworkers, since they may not know anyone at the party and would be grateful to have someone with whom to talk.

Even if speaking with the boss makes you nervous, shake hands and say hello so that your presence is known. Prepare something in advance to say about what you are working on, and bring it up if it seems appropriate at the time. This will help you to make a better impression.

Conversation Topics

Conversation at a work party does not need to revolve solely around your work.

Get to know people on a personal level. Ask questions and listen to what others have to say.

Brush up on current events, and have a couple of jokes memorized just in case. Give sincere compliments and avoid spreading office gossip.

Office Party Faux Pas

Yes, there are some things you absolutely should avoid at the office party:

  • Backing out at the last minute. The biggest mistake that you could make at the office party is to not show up. Treat the party as a work function and force yourself to go even if you are anxious.
  • Avoiding everyone. Don't sit alone all night or you will send the message that you don't want to get involved. If you are simply too anxious to mingle, volunteer for a job at the party to keep you busy and interacting with others.
  • Drinking too much. Be sure not to drink too much. Those with SAD are at risk for using alcohol as a means of coping with social anxiety. If you do drink, get something to eat and alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks.

Party Denouement

Continue the conversations that you started during the office party afterwards, to develop personal relationships with coworkers.

Immediately after the party, make some notes.

  • Write down names of spouses and children.
  • Make note of interests and hobbies

Then, follow-up with conversations or emails that show you remembered important details about others.

Even just sending a link to an article that someone may be interested in shows that you were listening.

It can be hard to deal with the social obligations of work when you suffer with SAD. These are some simple tips for coping with office parties.

If your social anxiety is severe and you have not yet sought help, a professional diagnosis and treatment such as medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be in order.

Sources

Ryerson University. Surviving your office party

Dukcevich, D. Office party survival guide

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