by Lani Grass
Backstage with Lani
It’s that time of year again, company parties and social gatherings everywhere. Will you have to mingle with company leaders as well as strangers and at the same time try make a good impression too? For a natural introvert, this is a stressful time of year. But instead of trying to muddle through it, you can use these tips below to help prepare yourself and actually enjoy the upcoming season.
Create your mindset:
- Use imagery- Picture yourself confident and looking poised. Remember an experience when you successfully mingled and had a good time. Tell yourself that although you feel anxious, you look calm. And even though you’re in an extrovert’s turf, you can certainly fake it for a couple of hours.
- Take a few deep breaths- Oxygenation of the brain reduces excessive anxiety levels. Paying attention to your breathing. Breathing slowly, deeply and purposefully into your body will actually force your body to calm itself.
What to wear:
- Formal or casual? Research what the occasion is, maybe what others wore the previous year and plan your attire accordingly. You can actually look up pictures of outfits people wear to holiday parties for inspiration. I always tell my clients when in doubt to dress one step more formal than their peers. If you’re shopping for some new clothes, ask the salesperson for suggestions. The key is to look polished, but don’t over-do anything.
Impressions count– Know that looking good can make you feel great and others will judge you on a first impression. For women, a no-fail look for the season is to wear an LBD (little black dress) and add holiday accessories like sparkly jewelry and a great pair of dress sandals. If you’re a man and the party is not too formal, try a nice sport coat, dark jeans, button-up shirt, a belt and nice shoes. In either case, elevate your style and put more effort than you would on a normal day.
What to say:
- Openers- Be prepared. Before you attend a party or gathering, read a magazine or a popular TV show to feed yourself conversation ingredients. If you want to join an ongoing conversation, the best entry line would be to ask a question about the topic under discussion. Openers are questions that invite other people to talk with you. In example, “Hi, I’m Lani. How do you know the host?”
- Sustainers- Ask more open-ended questions about the person you are talking to and listen intently to what they are saying. In example, “You said you were a teacher, what school do you teach at?”
- Closers– Social research shows that conversational groups last an average of 5 to 20 minutes. Don’t take offense if others change groups. It’s important how you close a conversation as well. Make a smooth transition like, “Excuse me, I promised to call and check on my kids” or “I need to refresh my drink, excuse me.”
Remember that for most people, being social and outgoing are skills that are learned, not inherent. You can definitely be born introverted and shy, but learn to be more extroverted when the need arises and actually enjoy getting to know strangers. It just takes practice and a genuine interest in learning about other people. This year, go out and attend the parties and gatherings you’re invited to and regard the new experiences as investing in yourself.
The choice is always yours, make it a good one.
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