7 Conversation Starters To Avoid Awkward Silences At Your Office Christmas Party
The most wonderful time of the year? The time of year with more social events you're obliged to attend as opposed to actually wanting to more like. And one of the biggest and most dread-filled soirees of the festive season is, of course, the work Christmas do. Yes, there will probably be male colleagues with their ties tied around their heads and you'll inevitably be sat beside someone you've never uttered more than three words to. But don't worry guys, I've got some tried and tested conversation starters to avoid awkward silences at your office Christmas party.
As a profoundly awkward and generally disinterested person who doesn't much like crowds, noise, or doing things I don't want to do: learning to get by in (and even enjoy) social events has become a bit of a necessity. One that, dare I say, I have down to a fine art. But the work Xmas do is one of the trickiest of them all.
How do you find something in common with Susan from accounts? What the hell is that guy from legal who always points at you when he says hi's name? And most importantly: how do you engage with someone who you have absolutely zero in common with apart from the company that pays you?
Ding dong merrily on high everyone, we got this.
1. 'I Love Your Outfit. Where's It From?'
Simple, succinct, and doesn't necessarily need to be the actual truth. I always think being kind and offering affirming comments to a person endears you to them. And being nice to someone is not only a good person thing to do but makes you feel nice too.
As it's the Yuletide season there will inevitably be a lot of "quirky" jumpers and "zany" hats. Resist the urge to eye roll and just accept that it is what it is. Be nice and let the conversations roll.
2. 'What Are Your Xmas Plans This Year?'
This is an opportunity for you to do what I call "the glaze." When your eyes go glossy like a lovely twinkly bauble and you think about other things (mainly what they hell you're going to say) until they finish with "and how about you?"
Respond honestly, take your time, and always finish with another question.
3. 'Have You Been Busy In The Run Up To Xmas?'
This one is tantamount to blowing an enormous hole in the side of the Hoover Dam in terms of conversation. Everyone wants to tell you about what they've had to cram in professionally and personally before the main event.
Whether it's how "slammed" they've been or how difficult it's been to hand knit mittens for their cats. You can kick back and nod and smile. Maybe occasionally say "oh dear what a bind!" to show empathy.
4. 'Oh My God Really? & Then What Happened?'
Every office has a few confident chatters. Hey they are probably nervous chatters (I've been known to be one myself) so if you find one you can just sit there and keep the ball rolling. Watch that verbal diarrhoea flow. Every time they say something and the conversation begins to lull, drop in the old "OMG and then what happened?" to keep them singing like a damn bird.
5. 'Right Who's For Another Drink?'
A perfect one to engage if you need a quick exit strategy. A temporary solution to what may be a more urgent problem but it gives you time to head to the bar and have a muse about what to do next, or maybe to figure out a way to steer the conversation away from politics.
6. 'Anyway, Let's Not Discuss Politics!'
It's inevitable. Someone is going to say something effing stupid. Or someone might believe that something you've said is effing stupid. Take the darn high road. I know it hurts, oh I know it hurts. But you have to go back to work with these people in no time at all and you guys — it ain't worth the drama.
7. 'Oh I Better Go I Have X In The Morning'
Look there comes a point when you can't go on anymore. Where you can't deal with the small talk and maybe you just saw a colleague photocopying a picture of their own butt. Or hey, maybe another workmate has just slurred "I have sussssh a big cruuush on you."
Pull the appointment card. Remember a forgotten barre class you've paid 30 quid for. Blame your departure on a prearranged event with a made up needy loved one.
This line is your ejector seat button. Hit it quick and get the heck out of there.
My main tip for surviving Christmas parties is: read the room. You might work in the most liberal and cool office ever but you guys, work is still work. Don't get too drunk and don't use this as an opportunity to give your boss what-for. Every holiday has an ending. Make going back to work in the New Year more of an easy breezy slide than a shame-laden slink. Merry Christmas babe.