Christmas Parties and your Style

Some useful advice here from the CIPD on how employers can avoid some of the pitfalls of the Christmas party and Secret Santa season.  

But what about you?  What can you do to maximise your chances of enjoying the Christmas party?  There is plenty of practical advice out there about how to avoid drinking too much, not spending more than you can afford and getting home safely.  But there’s more to enjoying the Christmas party than the practicalities.  How are you going to feel and what can you do to help yourself enjoy the party?

One of the most noticeable differences between people is whether they are more extraverted or more introverted. There is a tendency to assume that people who are more extraverted will love parties while people who are more introverted will hate them.  However, it is more complicated than that – both types can love or hate parties.  What makes the difference is how well each type of person manages their energy levels by making conscious choices in how to participate in the party. 

Nobody is either a complete extravert (if they were, they’d be partying 24/7 and would never be alone), nor a complete introvert (if they were, they’d be living a hermit’s life).  We are all a mixture, but our balance between the two tends to tip either towards extraversion or towards introversion.  This has nothing to do with social confidence or social anxiety – there are plenty of anxious extraverts and confident introverts.  Rather, this is to do with where you focus your energy and get your energy from. 

People who are more extraverted tend to put their energy to the external world and get energy from interactions with people and the world around them.  A party is an opportunity to interact with lots of people, to be stimulated and have fun, and they may feel energised by the end of it – they get a buzz.

People who are more introverted tend to focus their energy on their inner world, and they get energy from their own thoughts and feelings.  A party is an opportunity to get to know a few people better, to feel part of a group, and by the end of it they may feel drained – they need downtime to recover. 

If your balance is towards Introversion….

  • Bear in mind that you are likely to be more sensitive to external stimulation than your extraverted colleagues, so the noise, laughter and lights of a Christmas party can give you sensory overload.  Take sometime out, go to the loo, have a walk outside, find a quiet corner to sit for a few minutes.
  • Don’t feel that you “must” talk to everyone or look like you are having the most enormous fun.  If you want to spend time with the few people you know best, that’s fine.  But welcome others who come to talk to you and show interest and enthusiasm.
  • When you have something to say, say it, even when there is no gap in the conversation or when you have to talk over someone else – your more extraverted colleagues are likely to regard this as ok, as they probably do it themselves. 
  • Recognise when you have had enough interaction and go home.

If your balance is towards Extraversion….

You probably don’t need many tips on how to manage your energy at the Christmas party! But there are a couple of potential pitfalls for extraverts:

  • Sometimes colleagues expect you to be the life and soul of the party.  They may rely on you to be entertaining and fun at the party.  Don’t worry if you are not in the mood for this, it’s ok not to always give energy to others – though you may have to be patient when people ask you what’s wrong. 
  • Becoming hyper-active and perhaps overbearing for your colleagues – if you feel too stimulated, take a walk outside to calm down, or find a colleague to talk to quietly. 

Enjoy the party season and Merry Christmas!