Career Woman

An introvert’s guide to work parties


Office parties are daunting for anyone. But to an introvert, even the smallest and most informal gathering can be anxiety-inducing. There’s the stress of socialising with people you may not know very well, the pressure of making a good impression on your boss and the prospect of being outshadowed by larger-than-life personalities who seem to socialise with ease.

However, if you don’t attend work gatherings, you risk being left out of office conversations and you won’t have a strong relationship with your colleagues. As a result, you may end up being at the back of your manager’s mind when it comes to promotions and pay rises.

When equipped with the right tools, introverts can learn how to tackle work functions – and even begin to enjoy them. So next time you’re considering swerving your company’s social event, follow this 18-step survival guide. This covers what to do before, during and after the party.

How to spot an introvert

There are many tell-tale traits associated with introverted people. If you don’t consider yourself an introvert but want to support a colleague, keep reading.

Introverts tend to find small talk awkward and they’re often drained by social interaction and overly stimulating environments. This doesn’t mean they don’t like people – socialising just doesn’t come as naturally to them.

Introverts are usually reserved and guarded, especially around large groups of people. They’re self-aware and may take time to think before they speak, but are usually more relaxed and chatty around people they’re comfortable with.

18 tips to follow before, during and after a work party

Before the party

1. Decide if it’s worth attending

Is your presence really required at this event? If not, it’s probably worth saving your energy for more important gatherings. Don’t be afraid to (politely) decline. If you have no intention of going, be honest about it.

2. Set a goal for the party

Setting goals, however small, can make events feel easier and less daunting. Do you want to get to know your team better? Have you spotted a new colleague that you want to chat to? Do you want to impress your boss? Try to keep your goals in mind throughout the party.

3. Plan a few conversation starters

Prepare for awkward lulls in conversation by having some go-to topics to discuss. Have you recently watched a popular film or been on an amazing holiday? Be sure to bring them up.

4. Recruit a wingman or woman

If there’s someone at work you’re particularly chatty with, try to arrive at the same time as them. This means you have someone to buddy up with and you may end up meeting new people through them, so it’s a win-win situation.

5. Charge your batteries

Does the thought of attending social events exhaust you? Try to wind down beforehand, whether that’s by reading, watching TV or going for a walk.

During the party

6. Arrive early

You don’t want to get there after everyone’s already in the flow of conversation! Arriving fashionably late won’t do you any favours.

7. Wear a conversation starter

This doesn’t mean wearing a flamboyant outfit that’s completely outside your comfort zone. Just going for a striking necklace or a colourful top could be an easy conversation starter.

8. Make eye contact

Make sure your body language sends the right message to people. Try to maintain eye contact with people during conversations – don’t stare at the floor!

9. Find a quiet spot

Sometimes you just need to step back when things get a bit too much. If possible, scout out a spot where you can have a quiet moment, whether that’s the building foyer or the bathroom.

10. Use existing friends to make new ones

Many introverts struggle to speak to new people. If you have a couple of friends in the office, you can piggyback off them to make new connections.

11. Don’t drink too much

It’s tempting to bolster up some Dutch courage, but you don’t want to wake up with embarrassing memories and regrets. Swap alcohol for soft drinks at intervals throughout the event.

12. Offer a helping hand

If you find yourself at a loose end, why not assist with party preparation or help to clean up afterwards? This way, you’ll have something to focus on, which means less time fretting.

13. Accept small talk for what it is

Lots of introverts feel awkward with small talk, but in some cases it helps you get to know people. It can actually be the first step towards more meaningful conversations.

14. Have an escape plan

If your energy levels have dipped and you’d rather avoid attention, see if you can subtly slip out. Note down public transport times or order your taxi for a certain time when you know you want to leave.

After the party 

15. Wind down

Having some much-needed downtime can help top up your energy levels. Switch off by reading or having a relaxing bath.

16. Get back to work

If the party was on a weeknight, it’s possible that one or two of your colleagues won’t make it into the office the next day. You don’t want to be one of those people!

17. Build on conversations

Build rapport with your colleagues the next day by referring to conversations, events or jokes that took place at the party. This will help you strengthen your relationships, especially with senior colleagues you’re keen to impress.

18. Give yourself a pat on the back

Going to an office party is no easy feat for introverts, so the fact you’ve made an effort and got through it in one piece is a great milestone. Congratulate yourself on your achievements, no matter how small.

An introvert's guide to work parties

About Chelsea Harrop

Chelsea Harrop is a Content Executive at N Brown Group, where she writes copy for various brands. She has a passion for writing about a range of topics, including women in business, fashion and environmental issues.

Recommended for you