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Holiday small talk, rethought

Office party coming up? Let's be honest, they can be dreadful. And a recent column of suggestions didn't help.

I've never been accused of not having a gift of gab, but I clicked on this tweet that recently appeared on my Twitter page:

"Do you know how to make small talk? Or are you a boring sod? Brush up on do's and don'ts here.

The message was from somebody whose tweets I respect, meaning it was both readable and re-tweetable. Plus, my hubby's annual holiday office party is looming on the calendar, and I was curious as to what the experts say I should and shouldn’t be talking about at the December soiree.

Well, my tweeter friend's teaser was far more creative ("boring sod") than the linked piece in The Boston Globe titled, "Dos and don'ts of small talk." Here were the suggested "Top Five Icebreakers":

  1. What is your connection to the host/hostess or the event?
  2. What do you enjoy most about this time/season of the year?
  3. Bring me up to date about your life/work/family since the last time we got together.
  4. What keeps you busy outside of work? What keeps you busy beyond taking care of your family?
  5. What is your favorite holiday? Why?

I did not make those up. I mean, do people actually talk like that? So in response, here's my version that I call Sue’s Top Three Party Poppers:.

  1. Hey, I haven't seen you since the office picnic up at our house last summer. Did you know you left behind your salad bowl and spoons? I meant to send them in with my hubby to the office, but I ended up donating it to the local thrift shop. I didn't think you'd mind. And I'm so sorry about that three-hour ferry wait on the way home. Uff-da!
  2. Do you think people really like to go to these holiday parties? It's a bit awkward if it's not your office, sort of like going to somebody else's high school reunion. I just figured out this was the 35th office Christmas party I've gone to with my hubby. That's a lot of karaoke, palm reading, moonlight cruisin', disco dancing and smoking cigars with people who I don't even remember. So are you having fun — really?
  3. So what about that Tiger Woods guy, huh? And those White House dinner crashers — woohoo! I wonder if anybody has ever tried crashing an office holiday party; actually that would be pretty funny. And did my hubby tell you that we both had the swine flu a few months ago? I'm sure he did, as he was out quite a few days. Nasty stuff. So, are you doing anything special over the holidays?

Sue Frause is a Whidbey Island freelance writer and photographer. You can reach her at sue@suefrause.com.


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