I’ve never been a big fan of holiday parties. Actually, I’ve never been a big fan of parties at all.
I know other people who don’t care much for parties either and describe them as overwhelming and draining. Just this week, I had lunch with someone who is dreading all the formal holiday parties because of the “pressure to perform.”
Don’t get me wrong. This is one of my favorite times of the year. I love making connections with people and enjoy having fun. That’s part of the reason that parties aren’t my thing.
My idea of a fun interaction is 30-45 minutes of getting to know someone personally. At parties, it’s often only a minute or two until the other person (or passerby) interrupts the conversation. For me, there never seems to be a chance to make a real connection.
It’s important for leaders to take stock of these different preferences at gatherings in the coming days. Part of our job is to help create environments where people feel comfortable. Here are three common problems you’ll run into (and what you can do to overcome them) whether you’re a party lover or not:
1) Ignoring different preferences for having fun: One person’s idea of fun is getting to talk to everyone at the event. Another person’s fun time is getting to have a long chat with just one or two people. Either way, recognize your own preferences and be yourself – and also be respectful of other’s preferences. Neither way is right or wrong – we absolutely need (and should want) both types of people in our organizations.
2) Starting with the wrong crowd: Of course quieter people and louder people can interact and have a wonderful time – some of my favorite people are very different than me. That said, a good starting point at a party is to find someone like-minded. If you like lots of interaction, start by finding others who seem to be moving around a lot. If you are quieter, look to the corners of the room for the people having more lengthy conversations, then chat with the louder folks once you are more comfortable. I’ve rarely been to an event when I didn’t find at least one other person who was a lot like me.
3) Asking if people are having fun: Just because someone is quiet doesn’t mean they aren’t having fun. And, if they really aren’t having fun, putting them in the awkward position of having to tell you (or lie) isn’t the way to create it. Few things ensure misery more than getting asked a lot if you are having fun. And if someone presses you, humor them as just say, “It’s a fun event” (since there are undoubtedly others having fun).
Have you run into any of the problems identified above? Share your thoughts below with our community.