Work social events​

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How to engage in work social events

All organisations have social events of some type. They are an important part of encouraging workplace connectedness and maintaining a friendly workplace.​

Social event etiquette requires you to maintain professionalism and safety.​

Even at work events you represent your employer. ​

Tips for participating in work social events​

  • If you are new to an organisation it is common to feel a little nervous or uncomfortable attending work social events.​
  • If this is the case, ask to go to the event with your colleagues. That way you know you have someone to stand with and talk to. It is ok to let your colleagues know that you are nervous.​
  • Try not to spend the whole time on your phone so that you can get to know your colleagues.​
  • You can start small by only attending for five minutes. You can gradually increase the amount of time you stay at events.​
  • If you start to feel overwhelmed you can take a break, go to the toilet.​
  • You can also keep yourself busy by taking food around or helping clear dirty dishes if that makes it less awkward for you.​
  • If hand fidgets help you, take one.  You can have that in your hand and you can let people know about autism and why you use it.​
  • Practise active listening so that the conversation is give and take.                        ​
  • Show interest in others. See if you have common interests​.​
  • You do not need to always stay until the end of the event. You can say goodbye to those you are talking to and say that you are going back to work or home.​
  • If it is a birthday celebration it may be appropriate to say “happy birthday” to the people who are celebrating their birthday. ​
  • Other positive behaviour includes saying thank you to the organiser or helping with the clean up.

Some possible conversation starters:

  • Have you been working on anything exciting lately?​​
  • Have you always lived in (your city)?​​
  • What’s your favorite TV show / game?​​
  • Have you seen any good movies lately?​​
  • Do you have anything planned for the weekend?​

What not to do at work social events

  • Remember to steer away from topics of conversations such as religion, politics, race and salary amounts.   ​
  • Try not to share inappropriate personal information about yourself or ask inappropriate questions – especially if you just met the person.​
  • Monitor your alcohol and food consumption. Don’t go overboard, especially at a work site.  ​
  • Even if the celebration is about something with which you don’t agree, it may be respectful to attend and not give negative opinions or feedback – as most workplaces celebrate diversity and differences. Plus: a lot of work goes into organising these events to help build workplace friendliness and connectedness.​
  • If it is an event where everyone is expected to contribute, make sure that you are not that person who NEVER contributes any money or food. If in doubt about what is appropriate to bring, ask the organiser or a colleague.​
  • Non-verbal communication such as facial expressions, posture, voice level and eye contact is an important part of social interaction.​
  • If there is a guest speaker at an event do not talk while they are speaking. It would appear rude if you were yawning, falling asleep or pulling disagreeing faces if you do not agree with the topic. ​
  • If you need a break, you could go to the bathroom or get a glass of water. If a fidget spinner helps you, take that to the meeting to help you focus.​

End of Module Questions​

When attending social events, both verbal communication (what you say) and non-verbal communication (your body language) are important.​

What types of non-verbal communication can you use to show others that you are interested in what they are talking about?​

How can you best deal with a situation where someone else: ​

  • Is boring you?​
  • Is saying something that you disagree with?​

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