Do those obligatory office parties make your cringe? Do you beg off multi-generational family gatherings? Find it painful to not know what to say to strangers?
Are you worried there is something wrong with you because your idea of a great holiday is being undisturbed at home with a good movie and a glass of wine?
I know what it is to have social anxiety. And perhaps because I'm also an introvert, I don't usually consider myself as having a problem. I simply have a preference for my own company instead of making inane conversation about stuff I don't care about. Sound familiar?
But there have been times when I've felt required to attend social events and had to devise some survival strategies. Maybe a few of these will work for you.
1. Plan 3 all-purpose, conversation starter questions that will get the chattier people talking so you won't have to do much more than nod and smile.
Examples might be:
What have your kids been up to this year?
What's the best holiday vacation you've ever taken?
These are delicious, what's the recipe?
2. At open house affairs, have an action plan:
arrive late, leave early
circulate around the room
say hello and ask a question when people make eye contact
sample the refreshments and compliment the host
take out your cell phone, and explain you have to leave
3. At office parties in the workplace, talk to the boss:
compliment her dress or his tie
ask where she shops / ask his opinion on the superbowl teams
wish the boss a great holiday
grab some punch and go back to work
4. For e-vites, respond that you'd love to attend but have other plans. Your other plans don't have to be explained or even shared, but might be:
5. In general, don't feign illness to get out of spontaneous socializing, but do assertively, unabashedly say -- when it's true -- that you have already expended your energy allowance for the day / week, and that you hope the inviters go and have a great time. To soften your refusal if you feel that is necessary, you might add that you'll look forward to the next chance to see them.
If you are an introvert and worry how friends and family are going to react to your desire to have a calm and quiet holiday this year, and if you want a little coaching around that, schedule a one-session coaching call.