6 Tips To Avoid Social Awkwardness at Work Events
Social events, especially those related to your employment, can be sources of anxiety. In many cases, feeling awkward during social interaction can cause underlying levels of anxiety to rise. These tips can help you feel less awkward, calm your anxiety, and be more prepared to interact with your co-workers at work events.
- See Yourself Differently
Your mindset towards social events will affect your behavior and emotions. If you see yourself as a socially awkward person, you risk increasing your anxiety going into the event.
Even if you view yourself as having been awkward at past work events, do not set that expectation for yourself going forward. Walk into the event with a smile and confident posture, then set a new expectation for how you will be at that event. You will be surprised at how this simple mindset shift will dramatically improve you experience.
- Prepare Conversation Starters Beforehand
To take some pressure off of conversations, plan topics beforehand that you can use to start a conversation or keep a conversation going. Sports, TV, movies, family, and food are engaging and appropriate rapport building topics to prepare ahead of time.
Focus on keeping your conversation topics light and fun. If the person seems to know a lot about a topic you prepared, it is alright to let him take control of the conversation.
- Practice Answering Questions
At any social gathering, there are standard questions that are typically asked during a conversation. A very common question asked at the beginning of a conversation is what you do for a living, or in the case of work events, what your role is within the company.
If you have 5-10 practiced answers to standard questions in a conversation, you will likely find that your anxiety is lessened. This can also help you feel less awkward and seem smoother within the conversation.
- Stay Away From Taboo Topics
Bringing up an inappropriate or sensitive topic can instantly create an awkward moment. According to corporate and strategic communications specialist, Carlton James, topics such as politics, money, religion, gossip, and previous relationships, should be avoided at work-related events.
Gossip, in particular, does not reflect well upon you. It also could create an awkward situation if you are overheard by others.
- Be a Good Listener
Many times, simply listening to the other person speak creates a positive experience within the conversation. Listening also allows you to focus on the other person, not yourself, which will take away some of your responsibility in carrying the conversation.
- Volunteer at the Event
Volunteering to help during the event can be a way to distract your mind and calm your anxiety. This option can be helpful if you suffer from a high level of anxiety, while still allowing you to have conversations and social interaction at a work event.
Each conversation you have will allow you to practice these tips, learn to better manage your anxiety, and gain more self confidence. Also, if you allow yourself a gentle self-critique following each work event, you will likely find you are becoming a skilled conversationalist.