One of the reasons we sometimes end up with dull, uncomfortable office get-togethers is that we fail to remember that people have different personalities and different social styles. In effect, we are forcing people to sit in a room together and have fun. When we organize an office party, we’re often putting people who are party animals in a room with those who think that an office is strictly for work. The outcome can be unpredictable.
Outside of work, people usually choose the time and place for socializing, as well as the people to socialize with. So in essence, you’re creating something of an artificial social scenario when you throw an office party.
With that in mind, consider applying some of these guidelines when you organize your next office event:
- Get as many people as possible involved in organizing the party so that each has a vested interest in its success.
- Plan a few topics of conversation or activities, or create a theme that will offer common ground to people with different personalities.
- Don’t let the party go on forever. Aim to please the person with the lowest tolerance for socializing, and let people know it is okay to wander off even if the party is still in full swing at that time.
- If you can break up the usual office cliques so that people chat with new people, great. But people form their alliances for a reason, and if they choose to talk only to those people they talk to every day, so be it.
- Be prepared to be a facilitator. Have a few anecdotes on hand to tell in order to fill in the quiet moments. If you begin by sharing a personal story that’s interesting and humorous, others will often be made to feel more relaxed and will chime in with their own stories.
- Use the Internet. These days, stories, jokes, and anecdotes whiz around the World Wide Web. Borrow a few to relate to your next party.