One of the worst things an introvert can get in the mail is an invitation to a party. Some of these you pitch, some you save and then pitch, but for a few, you think, “I really should go to this.” The truth is there are some parties you need to attend. Our extrovert friends actually want us there. There are some events you should go to. It’s not enough to just RSVP with, “Your party will drain me.” As introverts, there is a need for us to connect with others, but is there a way to minimize the pain?
Here are 5 things every introvert should do at a party:
1. Have an escape plan.
While I’m not talking about pretending to take a phone call or faking an illness, (though I will neither confirm nor deny that I have done that) I’m talking about thinking ahead and planning your exit. It’s not offensive to tell your host, “I’m thankful you invited me, but I can only stay a little while.” When an introvert knows there is freedom on the horizon, it helps them deal with the journey to get there.
2. Hold something.
Believe it or not, people who hold a drink in their hands while talking with people actually do feel more confident. Especially for an introvert, the idea of having a small barrier between them and others is very comforting. It also gives you something to tend to as an out for a difficult or challenging conversation; “I’m going to go get some more to drink.”
3. Have three questions to use as conversation starters.
Everyone should have some conversation starters in the chamber. Otherwise, you end up talking about the weather or the décor. I heard one podcaster say that her goal was to get to a, “Really? Me too!” moment where she and the person she met found they had something in common. Maybe you ask, “Got any travel plans coming up?” or “When was the last time you were at an event like this?” Whatever it takes, just know these in advance.
4. Take some timeouts.
If you know you are going to be at a party for a few hours, plan a few trips outside to catch your breath, move the car or make a phone call home. I’d tell you to escape to the bathroom, but you don’t want to be in there for more than ten minutes, people will get concerned.
5. Find a job to do.
Ask the host if you can be in charge of filling drinks or setting the table. Finding any kind of purpose for your time there will make the time go quicker, plus you will meet more people that way and work the room better. Maybe you can be in charge of the coats or even take out the trash – in doing that you are multitasking by taking a timeout as well.
The reality is we’ve all been there, and we’ll all be there, but let’s do our best to serve others WHILE we are there. After all, it was Jesus who said, “Love others the way I have loved you.” He said this after washing the disciples’ feet at a dinner party. Although foot washing may not be the job you should pick.
I write about this a lot in my latest book Better Together. Hope it helps make parties easier!