By Sunny Simon

I spent the first hour of the ornament swap party painfully ignoring the vast array of plated sweets and listening to one friend after another. I’m really good at listening and everything that goes along with it. I’m attentive, polite, always making good eye contact, and adept at showing a sincere interest in others. No doubt that is why I chose life coaching as a profession.

Quite frankly after about sixty minutes of absorbing everyone’s news, woes and updates I began bordering on input overload. In a fortuitous turn of events, an unknown woman with a deep throaty laugh crossed my path. She was new to the area and after explaining a bit about herself she began peppering me with a few deep rooted questions. Talk about showing an interest, this woman could hold court with Barbara Walters! She had an amazing knack for engaging me in a conversation that rapidly surpassed small talk. My new friend gracefully conversed without dominating the dialogue allowing me to walk away from our meeting feeling refreshed and content. At the end of our discussion we exchanged business cards, and I excused myself so she could continue meeting new people and assimilating into the group.

The holiday season is loaded with opportunities to socialize. It is a joyous time of reuniting with old friends and meeting new people. If you want to be remembered at an event long after the partiers have gone home, understand the guest list of any social function is composed of extroverts and introverts. If you’re extremely extroverted you may want to monitor the amount of air time normally captured by your outgoing nature. Try asking more questions and doing more listening. Challenge yourself to make it easy for the other person to be heard. Showing an interest in someone else has a boomerang effect, eventually the conversation bounces back to you.

If you are a bit on the shy side and worried about attending a party where you only know the host, build your confidence by preparing in advance. Get in a party mood by playing your favorite music as you travel to your destination. Brush up on being a master conversationalist by making a list of interesting topics such as a recent movie you liked or trading information about family holiday traditions. Experts say arriving early also helps qualm your nerves.

Whether you are a party animal, a Toastmaster extraordinaire or as bashful as that cute little dwarf in Snow White, plan to have fun. Share the air time, ask interesting questions and smile.

Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at

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