Holiday Small Talk Survival
“What do you do?”
“How long have you worked here/there?”
“Have you tried the dip?”
If you are anything like me, you absolutely love the holiday season but end up feeling very tired of holiday parties by the time New Year’s Day rolls around. One of the obligatory elements of a holiday party is small talk. The small talk is often what most people dread about holiday parties. And if you dread the small talk, then author Connie Diekin can help you out. She’s written a book called “Talk Less, Say More” in which she shares some tips on surviving the holiday party small talking.
Diekin offers some simple advice about what to do and not do while engaging in small talk at a party. For example, she warns against monopolizing conversations. Some do this because it’s the one way to control an otherwise meaningless conversation. Others aren’t aware how much they like to talk… about themselves. Still others do it simply because they are nervous. Be aware of the conversation. No one likes talking to someone who is not letting them talk. It’s no longer a conversation — it’s a monologue.
Instead “play conversational tennis” as a way of engaging in a dialogue with a steady interaction with the other person.
On the other hand, be careful not to interrogate either. Ask questions but remember: it’s a party, not a crime scene investigation. Instead, ask open-ended questions and become an active listener, nodding and affirming what they are saying without interrupting them.
If you are not interested or are bored by the party or the person with whom you are talking, make a point to not show your boredom to the world. This is merely good manners, but at a company party it could affect the way co-workers and superiors will view you. Putting your best foot forward at work means doing the same if it’s a company party.
Dieken also encourages party goers to not “blend into the woodwork.” The larger the party, the greater the temptation to hide out.
One of the worst offenses while engaging in small talk is looking over the shoulder of the person you’re talking to for someone “better” to talk to. Don’t think that the person you’re talking to doesn’t know what you’re doing. It is one of the most offensive and disrespectful things to do. Inevitably, we all run into a boring conversation. Don’t offend the person you’re talking to. Just have an “exit strategy” for boring conversations before you ever arrive to the party. Maybe you need to get more to drink, or have to use the restroom or need to find the person you came with. Find a way to get out of the conversation without hurting that person’s feelings.
After all, it is Christmas, the season of good cheer. Here’s to hoping we can all stay in good cheer and spread it at every holiday party!