So, how do you know when you’ve been to a good party? A friend of mine once woke up in an unfamiliar nation with nipple jewellery. Better still, I was once invited to lick birthday cake off my naked hostess.
The best thing about being a writer is that I get to attend lots of parties and call it “research”. For me, socialising is as natural as breathing. But Australia’s introverts are currently curled up like petrified echidnas. Why? Because parties at Christmas are unavoidable.
Dress code for all parties should require guests to wear their hearts on their sleeves.Credit:iStock
As I spend most of my working day tethered to my lonely desk, by evening I’ve become so dull that even my imaginary friend has run away to play with someone more interesting. I need to be re-energised by repartee. (And the best thing about the office Christmas party is that for once, your colleagues can admit they’re tipsy and not getting any work done.)
And new research reveals that it’s good for me, too. In the first study of its kind, researchers at the University of California asked 123 people to act extrovert for a week. Participants were instructed to be talkative, assertive and spontaneous in their daily interactions. The following week, the same group was asked to act introvert.
When people acted like extroverts, they experienced more positive emotions and satisfaction. When they acted like introverts, they experienced fewer positive emotions. The report concluded that social interaction was inherently rewarding for humans, who have a need to belong and connect.
In other words, swinging from a chandelier can be good for your mental health. So, introverts, don those flashing reindeer antlers, wreathe yourself in tinsel and get thee to a party, pronto. But for those wallflowers who’d rather perform an unanaesthetised appendectomy on themselves with nail scissors, allow me to give you a few top party-survival tips.
Thou shalt not bore
This is your No. 1 commandment. So, avoid discussing ailments, alimony, house prices or the weather. “Small talk” is banned, unless referring to Harvey Weinstein’s appendage. Religion, politics, sex: they’re the conversational hors d’oeuvres people crave. So, put on your psychological scuba gear and dive in the deep end.
Avoid social Siberia
Never loiter in the doorway looking lost. Simply tell someone how nervous you are. They’ll invariably take you under their social wing and soon you’ll be diving head-first into the eggnog together singing O Come, All Ye Faithful.
If you end up in a conversational cul-de-sac with someone who has nothing to say but spends the whole night saying it – a wine buff who puts the bore into Bordeaux, or an Eeyore who likes nothing more than whining and dining – simply cough a little in their direction. Then mutter, “It’s so brave of you to come into contact with me, you know, after my diagnosis.”
Dress code for all parties should require guests to wear their hearts on their sleeves. It’s imperative you strip off to your emotional undies. Why? Well, if you reveal vulnerability to a fellow guest, they’ll reciprocate: you’ll be embroiled in a fascinating heart-to-heart and maybe make a friend for life.
It is never funny to tuck the mistletoe sprig into your belt buckle. To stick to bird metaphors, your goose is well and truly cooked. So, deck yourself in boughs of holly, buy a six-pack of Santa hats and get into the Christmas spirit. (Literally. A “personality drink” beforehand will help.) Now, go forth and be fabulous.
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale December 8.
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