Getting Anxiety over Work Functions

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Imagiton
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Getting Anxiety over Work Functions

Postby Imagiton » Tue Oct 04, 2016 1:57 pm

Hi Everyone, not posted for a few weeks.

I seem to be going through a bumper session of 'work functions'. I work in the hospitality industry, where the opening of an envelope appears to be cause for team meals out with post-party drinks. To make matters worse, there are a few extroverts in my office that try to push their party-animal nature onto me. My team has booked our own xmas team meal, been invited to another by our boss and an in-office Christmas party all spread over November - December, plus a new invite out to an inter-departmental night out... The company always seems to book parties on a Thursday (which clashes with my harp lessons), pushes drinking culture but expects a full (but hungover) attendance the next day.

I've just tried approaching another innie in my team for support as the thought of so many parties, but the resident outspoken extrovert of group overheard and pooh-poohed the mere thought of me not going or limiting my drinking (strangely, no problem with other / older members of our team not getting trashed...). He just won't accept that I plain just don't want to - it's rather rude and intolerant of him, if you ask me. If truth be told, there were some snide comments made about me at the last Summer BBQ when I was put in a taxi with some people from a different department.

I'm nervous about attending all these parties. The two Christmas meals I have to attend now, but the latest inter-departmental meal out is the one I really have a problem with. Any advise on how to bow out gracefully, hold firm against bullying extrovert types and just general cope as an introvert in what appears to be an extrovert's world?

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Orientalist
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Re: Getting Anxiety over Work Functions

Postby Orientalist » Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:33 am

Sounds horrible! I'm glad I grew up before binge drinking became the norm. Perhaps you should find a credible reason not to drink, or not to drink much, like being pre-diabetes or being a Buddhist. Bowing out of a party altogether is more of a problem, though. Can you not just stick with your fellow introverts during the parties? My former employer used to send us on annual trips for a weekend and I'd be forced to dance during the evening party...
If the truth hurts, you ain't livin' right.

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Imagiton
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Re: Getting Anxiety over Work Functions

Postby Imagiton » Wed Oct 05, 2016 8:00 am

Hi Orientalist,

I know from previous experiences that if I take the car, people will respect my decision not to drink (drink driving, bad). It's just beforehand, getting people to respect my decision to take the car. Its not always the drinking though, sometimes its just wanting to be away from everyone, the office talk and the behaviour of those who are partying / drinking.

Half of team of six are introverts, but there is one extrovert in particular who is a little overwhelming and won't take no for an answer when it comes to group activities. More so for me, because we're a similar age. He lets the older women (also introverts) leave parties early, but I would get comments for days if I tried that trick. Still, he's just going to have to get used to it. He's not doing to be annoying, he's just oblivious to the effect he has and if you point it out then he doesn't learn from it.

Genuinely, I don't think I want to go to the inter-departmental meal but think I might go for a few hours and leave early.

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Re: Getting Anxiety over Work Functions

Postby AcousticPond » Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:41 pm

I don't get people to respect my decisions. I do what's best for me, and that's that. They don't need to respect it, or understand it. Any comments fall on deaf ears. If what I'm doing isn't hurting anyone else, then it's none of their business.

Sounds to me like it's a total boundary violation. Age should have nothing to do with your preference to drive/not drive, drink/not drink, or back out. I wouldn't even announce in advance whether or not you're choosing to drive. I learned that the more time you give people to argue with you in advance, the more ammunition they come up with, and it just becomes a battle. I would simply show up with my car.

And yeah, some extroverts are horribly overwhelming. They seem to form a picture or 'version' of you in their mind that they think is accurate (even though it could be totally incorrect), and if you deviate from that, they get a bit shitty over it, either by ignoring the facts, or pushing stuff on you. It's a subconsious control thing on their part. I think your coworker knows that the more he gives you flack, the more chance he has of 'winning' and getting what he wants. Beat him at his own game, and don't give him any information beforehand. Just show up (or don't), and leave when you want.

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Re: Getting Anxiety over Work Functions

Postby Imagiton » Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:11 pm

Thanks, AcousticPond. I was wondering if just turning up with car would be the best idea, no "discussion" beforehand. Saves all the pre-event fuss that just stresses me out.

You're right, I don't need to give excuses either. I'm trying to get better at not offering them, although I often feel compelled to at least try.

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Re: Getting Anxiety over Work Functions

Postby Orientalist » Thu Oct 06, 2016 4:10 am

Good advice, AP. I'd forgotten that that is what I usually did myself when I worked for an employer.
If the truth hurts, you ain't livin' right.

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Imagiton
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Re: Getting Anxiety over Work Functions

Postby Imagiton » Fri Oct 07, 2016 4:21 pm

Update - So last night I went out with a group of people I didn't really know. One of the Operation Directors that I PA for and his team of Business Development Managers. Had a great night, went bowling, out for a meal and had a few drinks. Found I had loads in common with them and loosened up, even spoke my mind on politics, cats, travelling, career progression, etc. Definitely improved my working culture. I wasn't so nervous about this night out.

As for the other nights, I'm still looking forward to the Christmas meals with my team. I'll go to the inter-departmental meal, but not join the drinks after WITH the car and NO pre-warning that I'll be driving it. The office Christmas Party, I might go for a bit then leave when I need to as I will have work the next day...

As for the opinionated extrovert, I'm noticing that at work functions I'm a completely different person when he's not around. I don't dislike him, I somewhat consider him to be a friend, but I'm noticing that I he has a negative emotional impact on me. Very much as AP said, he has an image of me and if I contradict that then he's a bit pissy about it. For instance, if I'm talking to someone else and I behave in a way he's not used to then he'll call me up on it or says I'm putting on a show.

Thanks guys, your replies have been a massive help :)

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Re: Getting Anxiety over Work Functions

Postby AcousticPond » Mon Oct 24, 2016 7:56 pm

Imagiton wrote:...but I'm noticing that I he has a negative emotional impact on me. Very much as AP said, he has an image of me and if I contradict that then he's a bit pissy about it. For instance, if I'm talking to someone else and I behave in a way he's not used to then he'll call me up on it or says I'm putting on a show.


I'd ask him why he thinks you're putting on a show, or I'd call him on him questioning you. Get him to explain why he's saying, thinking or doing what he is. Some people will believe they have you all figured out, simply because forming an impression of their own is easier than taking the work to actually get to know you (and part of it is probably subconscious in that he wants you to be who he thinks, regardless of whether or not you actually are like that). They experience cognitive dissonance (they're clinging to an irrational set of beliefs about your behaviour, and you're contradicting them), and they don't like the feeling they get when they think they're wrong, and that's when they get their knickers in a knot.

His cognitive dissonance is his problem, not yours. It's not your fault he's come up with this 'image' of you (that's entirely of his own making), and him expecting you to act how he wants is a bit out to lunch, really. In cases like this, I try to get people to really think of what they're doing/asking, or realize that their preconceived notions are on them, not on you. It might work, it might not. Some people are open-minded enough to realize that their behavior isn't completely rational, and some will continue to act like controlling morons.

But, sometimes, just saying, "You seem to think I'm like A, B or C. Wherever would you get that idea?" helps. A lot of the time the answer will simply be, "I don't know." (And that would be your cue to say, "Yeah, I don't know either. How strange that you though of me like that.")

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Re: Getting Anxiety over Work Functions

Postby Imagiton » Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:17 am

Thanks for this advise! I've been a little distant recently with said annoying extrovert, sometimes a little snappy or cold when he's been using his cognitive dissonance to project this incorrect image of me onto me. He seems to be getting the message from this, but obviously this won't work as a long-term tactic to maintain a good working relationship. Definitely asking him to explain his pre-conceptions would be a better tactic to switch to.


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