Holiday Parties and Career Related Social Anxiety

December 04, 2014

I love it when I read a blog, and the author’s ideas resonate completely with my own. Recently I read Candence Turpin’s blog “A Better Way to Introduce Your Friends at Parties” and it left me yelling out loud, “Exactly!” Turpin shared a recent incident whereby she innocuously participated in the common social practice of introducing people by their job title at a party. By the end of the evening, her dear friend was left feeling inadequate and less interesting than other guests whose careers appeared to be more interesting. It left the author wondering why we don’t introduce people by sharing who they are to us and the meaning they bring to our lives. It was this idea that evoked my audible, “Exactly!”

Social gatherings during the holiday can be a fun way to celebrate the season. It’s a great time to catch up with friends and family, and even meet new people. However, if introductions and conversations are limited to career titles and work discussions, social gatherings quickly become uncomfortable for those who are unemployed, underemployed, or whose college semester just ended badly.   It’s not uncommon for people experiencing work life turmoil to completely avoid holiday gatherings. The increased isolation can lead to greater levels of depression, which exacerbates their difficult situation. Turpin says, “Introducing your friends for who they are rather than focusing on what they do will remind them they are loved before and beyond their titles. It’s an easy way to remind them that you see them for their hearts instead of their accomplishments.” Not only would this method of introduction give grace to people whose work life is more complex than they want to discuss at a holiday party, but it may lead to better quality conversations and connections for all guests.

I’m not suggesting that we never discuss our work life at a party, but I do think it’s time to expand ourselves and try introducing our friends and family in a more meaningful way. Go one step further and challenge yourself to not say, “What do you do?” after you meet someone new at a holiday party. There’s plenty of time to network throughout the year, but the holidays only happen once a year. Let’s not unconsciously intermingle networking with holiday celebrations.

Written By: By: Mavis Ball, LPC


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