Tis the season for your calendar to be filled with holiday parties. We all know the usual routine of arriving at the company holiday party–you scan the room and automatically stride toward your group of familiar colleagues by the bar. You spend most of the evening having similar conversations as you had over lunch the previous day. The truth is holiday parties only come around annually and are curated to bring more company representatives into one room than most other events in the year. So, what if you leveraged the real magic of holiday parties as a way to meet some new folks within the company?
Conversations can be sparked simply with eye contact, a smile and a powerful question.
Here are 3 questions to spice up your holiday party banter:
#1: What’s one word that categorizes 2014 for you?
Often, the holiday season wraps up the corporate financial year, so retrospective thinking is common during this time period. With this question, you are essentially inviting someone to think about and summarize the impact of 2014. This question opens up many doors as someone can take the perspective of work, personal life or even a more macro worldview. How your conversation partner answers this question will help you discover a lot about them as a person and colleague. Ask follow up questions to uncover the stories behind the theme of 2014 and conversation will flow from there.
#2: If Santa could put one gift for you under the tree, what would it be?
In the spirit of holiday fun, throw out this question to spark a light hearted discussion with a stranger. Often in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the adult in us overtakes the inner child. Offer someone the chance to ignite their childlike enthusiasm and imagination as you inquire about one thing they really desire and why. You may discover a shared hobby or pastime that could spark an entirely new tangent in the conversation. Be sure to share, too! Dream up your most desired gift and share your story behind it.
#3: What are you most excited for next year?
When you give someone the chance to talk about what excites them, you learn about what they value most. Pay special attention to facial expressions and body language when people speak about plans with passion and excitement. Being a great listener means taking in all the verbal and non verbal cues in conversation and sometimes reflecting it back to the speaker. If you notice someone’s eyes light up when they’re speaking about a project, tell them about their glow.
Hearing about the projects and priorities of others also invites you to offer value when you can. Share advice if you have some, offer a connection that could help or commit to follow up with them to hear about outcomes in the new year.
Once you’ve sparked a fascinating conversation with a stranger, how will you follow up based on all you’ve learned about this unique colleague at the holiday party? Think about ways you can offer value based on everything you’ve heard. Perhaps its sending them a useful article with information around a topic area you discussed or connecting them with a friend who just came back from their 2015 dream holiday destination. Building meaningful relationships at the office is a game changer and connecting with new colleagues at the holiday office party is a great way to turn conversations into new friendships.