Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, sometimes social occasions can make us all quiver a little. But never fear, we’ve got 5 handy tips for survival.

We’ve all been there before, you might find yourself in the tearoom with a bunch of people you’ve never spoken to before (despite working there for a good two years… oops) or it’s a corporate luncheon with pre-arranged seating. But never fear, we’re here with 5 hot tips to make these encounters more manageable.

1. Avoid one-word answers

We can’t stress this one enough. One-word responses are the devil. They give the question asker nothing to work with, and you come off rude and disinterested. No good for anyone. If you’re asking a question, try to avoid anything that might end in a Yes/No, Good/Bad answer. Conversation starters such as “tell me..” or “how did…” are much less likely to finish at a dead end. And if you’re the one responding, for the love of god show some respect and use a full sentence, worse case, just ask them the exact same question back. Before you know it, the conversation will be flowing smoothly.

2. Don’t acknowledge the awkwardness

Don’t say what everyone is thinking, it’s a fast track to failure. Simply pretend you haven’t noticed the chatter fell flat, or that everyone is feeling confused by Shirley’s questionable comments. How to move forward? Simply use the silence as a chance to jump back to an earlier part of the convo, or maybe take a moment to praise the food you’re all eating.

3. Play the pass off

Running out of things to discuss with Eric from production? Simply loop in someone else. Introduce them and ask their opinion. Then, either excuse yourself if you’ve had enough or stay around to learn a thing or two about the newest edition to the chat. You’ll make new connections and it’ll take some of the stress off your hands.    

4. Flatter their ego

You’ll often find, the hardest part of any conversation is starting it. When you’re trying to talk to someone you don’t know, nerves can easily kick in. So maybe kick it off with something kind. But don’t be ridiculous now, this isn’t a love song. A well-placed compliment is a great starting point, noticing what they’re wearing could be a good lead into the latest watch you’re eying off, or whipping out your wallet with a similar brand.

5. Take a breather

Sometimes, talking’s all a little too hard, so lighten the mood and bring in a distraction. “I saw the funniest cat video – let me show you” could be a great lightener. Anthony from accounts might also appreciate the giggle, or maybe he’s an avid dog lover and enters a playful debate on Shih Tzu vs Siamese. But keep it clean and light-hearted. Steer clear from politics, trump talk or anything out of the usual – everyone has a very different sense of humour.

Ready to tackle the next work lunch? Sounds like you need some Catering.