Saturday, September 20, 2014

Extrovert by Day, Introvert by the Guacamole

Author's Note: This is my contest entry to become a blogger at my office.

Most people who know me would say that I’m definitely not shy. I’m friendly and outgoing; I even talk to strangers in elevators. When I take my pugs for a walk, I sometimes don’t return home for an hour or two, not because we’re power trekking, but because we stop and talk to every neighbor in a four block radius. As part of my job, I give presentations to clients; it wouldn’t even bother me if I had to get up in front of a large audience and tell jokes. Once during a management training class, we took a personality test, and my extrovert rating was off the chart.

But tests don’t show everything and mine was no exception. I have a secret fear: I’m afraid of cocktail parties. Cocktail parties make me uncomfortable, especially if I don’t know my fellow party-goers. I’m not good at small talk or chit chat, and I’ve never mastered the elusive skill of moving from one group of people to another. Just how do you break away from Group 1 gracefully and move on to talk to Group 2? I’ve never figured it out. Maybe I could take a class. Maybe they could offer one through our corporate Learning Center…

I have two coping mechanisms to deal with parties. The first is to act as a helper. The helper doesn’t have to talk, just smile and say “hi” and often can hide in the kitchen. In the past, at corporate parties, I’ve handed out tickets for drinks and raffle prizes. In a pinch, I can even pour drinks. The second strategy is to hide by the food table and pretend that I’m invisible. I examine the guacamole in great detail and occasionally rearrange the silverware. When other people approach the table, I smile and pretend to be very busy deciding between the red cookie shaped like a heart and the green cookie shaped like a star. Oddly enough, my boyfriend (now husband), who is quite shy, really likes cocktail parties and morphs into a friendly, happy party-goer. Go figure.

So what is your take on cocktail parties? Love them or dread them? Is a family party easier than a work party? Do you consider yourself shy or social? Or are you shy on some occasions and social on others? And can someone please tell me, how do you gracefully move on from Group 1 to Group 2…?

Originally published January 2011


  1. This is good! I would have picked you hands down for the blogger contest. P.S. I hate cocktail parties and don't know how to move between groups either gracefully. I usually use, I have to go to the bathroom excuse and them pick a new group when I come back from the powder room.

  2. I am an extrovert who overcame shyness. Mostly. The book by Barbara Walters
    How to Talk to Practically Anybody About practically Anything changed my life as a young woman. Mainly I am interested in people, and ask them odd questions about themselves and while they are talking I fit in for the moment.
    Always hold a drink, as it gives you something to do.

    BTW, Nancy, I'd love a button for this blog, on your other blog so I can bing back and forth! Great posts so far
    LeeAnna Paylor