Shy? Here's how to schmooze your way through this season of parties.
'Tis the season for office holiday parties. Sound like "Joy to the World" to you? Or "Silent Night?" Don't worry. We asked Bernardo Carducci, PhD., author of The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk, how to make your party—and everyday office encounters—a chance to connect with any coworker, even the CEO.
"It's about making the other person feel comfortable," says Carducci. "You don't have to be witty."
Try these tips and you'll have the gift of gab in no time.
1. Initiate conversation.
Comment on your shared experience. "Nice weather we're having." "Isn't that a beautiful centerpiece?" "These appetizers are delicious!"
2. Introduce yourself.
Give a few specifics that will invite a comment or a query and help keep the conversation going. Don't stop at "I'm Bill in accounting." Try "I'm Bill, accountant by day and the softball team's cleanup hitter by night." Think up your opening line ahead of time so you're not fumbling for words.
3. Go fishing for topics.
You don't have to be an expert. Build up a stash of ideas beforehand by reading up on current events. Or continue on a topic that someone else has already put out there. But don't be afraid of silence—it takes time for people to process information and come up with responses.
4. Diverge if you can't merge.
Don't know much about the current topic? It's okay to start a new conversation thread. It's like brainstorming. There are no bad ideas! Just lob something out and see what happens. Don't go to extremes, though. Try to avoid chattering endlessly about your favorite topic or asking question after question.
5. Let your new friend know you appreciate his thoughts.
"It was fun talking to you about..."
Do you hear what I hear? It's the sound of good conversation.