It’s that time of year again. Time for the barrage of holiday parties. There are the nice, small intimate gatherings. We like those, right? And then there are the large, “I don’t know anyone here” parties that make us nervous. We check our phones to look like we are doing something, to hide the fact that we wish we could be anywhere but here.
Social anxiety. Unless you’re the president of the United States, you have it. Some of us seem to be great at handling it but most of us have it in one way or another.
I’ve been there, in many ways I’m still there. But here are some strategies you can use right away to feel better going into and out of these wonderful shindigs.
First, the most powerful strategy I’ve used with my clients for social anxiety is Visualization. Before entering into a situation which could produce anxiety, it’s great to see yourself there, see it going well, really feel as though you are having productive conversions. If you have a positive experience BEFORE you even have the experience, then you greatly increase the likelihood of having a good time.
Lucky for us, the brain does not know the difference between things real and imagined, and so if you imagine it having great conversations and having a great time, the brain will say, “Oh, I’ve done this before, this will go well.” You will feel much more at ease when you enter the room.
Thus, the more positivity you can conjure before the encounter, the better of a chance there is for it to go well at that holiday extravaganza.
Second – strategize. Decide ahead of time what your objective is for the party, and always start small.
For example, let’s say you are headed to that corporate bonanza. Before you your visualization, say to yourself, “What do I want to accomplish by going into this party?”
Start small, and say, “If I have just one conversation with someone interesting, then I’m going to be happy.” Then go into that party with that goal, one good conversation.
You will feel a sense of focus as you know that your goal was for one conversation. Then once you do that you generate momentum until your goal is two conversations, and so on.
Start small, generate momentum, and you’ll feel better instantly.
Lastly, cut yourself some slack. These situations are hard for everyone. They are awkward. And not just for you, for all of us. If you go into an evening and you have an off night, it’s ok. There will be plenty more of these gatherings to go to. Don’t get down, it’s normal to be anxious.
With these three techniques – visualization, strategy, and cutting yourself some slack – you can be ready to head into your holiday parties with relative ease. Remember, have faith in yourself, that when the moment is right – you’ll be ready!