It’s December! Can you believe it! Where has the year gone?

With deadlines fast approaching and strategy plans being developed, this time of year can feel busier than ever. Add on top of that the social events you’re obligated to go to but really don’t want to.

And one of those events is, of course, the end of year work party (que awkward silence).

Some of us at work are not required to have informal conversations. After all, there is a job to be done. But the work party can be a tricky one to get out of.

How do you start a conversation with Jennifer from Marketing? What is the name of that guy who always says hi to you? How do you interact with someone you don’t really have anything in common with apart from the organisation you both work for?

You are not alone if you would prefer to skip these encounters and avoid all the small talk. But since you’ve committed to your team that you’d go, here’s a conversation guide to help slightly ease the pressure.

1. The Arrival

It can feel uncomfortable to approach people you’ve barely spoken to before or maybe even never meet. The natural retreat is to always go towards people that you know and are familiar with.

Start with small steps and introduce yourself to someone new as you’re grabbing a drink. It all can start with a simple, “Hi, I’m (name) …”, to get a conversation going.

You could go a step further and ask which team they work in. Maybe you’ve exchanged emails before but haven’t meet each other face to face yet.

2. The Mingling

What do you do now that you have your drink in hand? You start searching around for someone you know to ease the stress, right.

Why not take a slightly different route and approach someone completely new (maybe even with your work mate). All it can take is for you is to say the first hello to break the ice and start the conversation.

Top Tip: Find a confident chatter box (you’ll notice them for sure) and keep the ball rolling with them. They’ll easily maintain the conversation and you might find yourself having a bit of a laugh along the way. Just keep asking, “And then what happened?”, and they’ll talk your ear off until you’re ready to move on.

3. The Tactful Exit

Once your social battery is out, it’s time to make a swift and tactful exit for the door. If you’re talking to someone new, excuse yourself and wish them the best of luck to do with the conversation.

If you’re with someone you know, even better. Time to get a real dinner feed – lets go.

All in all, as much as the work party might not typically be your scene, taking the leap of faith to speak with and get to new people in your organisation might prove to be handy in the new year. Maybe you’ll need to ask Jennifer from Marketing for her help with something. You’ll never know…