Socializing with Coworkers over the Holidays

In many organizations, employees have several opportunities throughout the year to socialize at work-related functions.

Whether you’re attending the annual holiday party, a special meeting, a training session, banquet or other social event, keep these tips in mind for socializing with your coworkers:

Break the Ice

A good way to break the ice is to offer a topic of discussion. Examples might include:

  • Current Events: Scan a news magazine, news-related website or the daily paper to find upbeat or interesting news.
  • Congratulations: Offer congratulations on an accomplishment, promotion or graduation to get conversation rolling on a pleasant note.
  • Good News: Provide happy news about mutual friends or acquaintances to put people in a good mood.
  • Travel: Ask about recent trips or upcoming travel plans (e.g. summer vacation, holiday cruises, spring break).
  • Sports: If a sporting event is of national interest, such as the Super Bowl, this is a topic that everyone should be able to participate in.

Listen Up!

 Nothing is more flattering than someone who listens to you carefully and shows sincere interest. How do you learn to listen? Here are a few quick tips:

  • Ask a question, and then let the other person answer.
  • Really concentrate on what the person is saying.
  • Look directly at the person and pay attention to the conversation, rather than letting your eyes roam around the room in search of other social opportunities.
  • Don’t interrupt or interject comments that shift the attention to you.
  • Ask follow-up questions to what the person has told you. A gentle nod of your head now and then offers further encouragement. All these signals show the depth of your attention.

Winding Down a Conversation

All things (no matter how good or bad) must come to an end—and conversations are no exception. A good ending can go a long way, so take the time to end the conversation on a positive note. The best way to leave a conversation is to smile and thank the other person for his/her time. If you’re a talker, try to read the body language of people you’re talking with and gauge when it may be time to politely end the conversation. Some body language signals may include:

  • The other person keeps looking at their watch or looking around.
  • The other person becomes fidgety or acts bored.
  • The other person doesn’t add to the conversation.
  • The other person’s eyes are closed and he/she falling asleep (okay, an unlikely, but final clue that the discussion needs to end).

If you realize you’ve been monopolizing the conversation, simply apologize and throw the ball into the other person’s court without drawing too much attention to your faux pas. However, if at this point he/she is ready to move on, it’s likely the other party will end the conversation.

Greeting a colleague may involve a handshake. Learn what to do—and what not to do—to get this important social act just right.