In Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I am the only person in my entire class who is not invited to the class party.
Yes, it happens, and somehow, we survive. Obviously, I had no gift for social interaction.
But one thing Aspies are good at is learning, and our ability to learn and acquire social skills is key to our enjoyment of the world around us.
And, it’s Christmas. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a Christmas party, or maybe you just end up there by default–it’s an office thing and you can’t avoid it–wouldn’t it be nice to be able to relax and enjoy the moment?
Knowing some of the basic behaviours and unwritten rules that others take for granted have really helped me since that day of the big un-invite.
Let’s start with the office party.
First of all, I’ve been told that it’s rude to not show up. It could count against you. However, it is not impolite to come a bit late and leave early on, but if you arrive closer to the start time (say, 15-20 minutes after) people may not have clustered into cliques and you might find making and joining conversations easier.
Here are some conversation starters from the November, 2017 issue of Canadian Living Magazine:
Do you have any plans for the holidays? Are you travelling?
What were your favourite holiday traditions when you were growing up?
Tell me about a book that has had a huge influence on you.
Be sure to see your bosses: your supervisor, the manager and/or the department head before you leave. “Thank you.” And “It’s been a pleasure working with you this year.” are some things you might say.
Leaving early? Even though the office party may be a high anxiety event for you, try to wait until someone else has already left before saying your goodbyes. If it’s conspicuously early, you may say you have another commitment. If it’s curling up with your cat to watch a good movie, it may be wise to refrain from saying so!
I do hope this helps. Thankfully, my social life has improved immensely. And believe me, yours can, too!