Now that it’s December 1st, we all know that this is the month for holiday office festivities. For some this may mean the dreaded holiday party. {Yes, you’re wise to attend.} If you already have a list of excuses ready in order to avoid attending or to dart out early, it’s most likely because you don’t enjoy small talk which is standard behavior at a holiday party. So what’s the fix, you ask? How about some ideas to help you manage the art of small talk? Consider these 10 suggestions:

1. What will you remember most about this year?
2. What did you learn from your experiences this year?
3. How do you plan to jumpstart the new year?
4. What travel plans are you looking forward to or where do you most recommend traveling?
5. What’s worked well to keep yourself motivated throughout the year?
6. What’s your connection to the host/hostess of this party?
7. What are some of your favorite tools to be productive or efficient at work?
8. Who has been a role model or influencer for you?
9. Where do you turn for inspiration?
10. Which of the dishes that they’re serving have you tried and what do you recommend trying?

The goal of small talk is to encourage dialogue with another person. One effective way to do this is to ask open-ended questions, such as the examples I’ve suggested. You’ll notice they each start with a WH-word (i.e. what, where, who, when, why, which). You can always modify these questions or add your own but this way it gives you an option for approaching small talk in a new way. You also want to avoid sounding like you’re interrogating a person so be sure to insert some of your own stories or comments but then use open-ended questions to draw someone else out and be sure to listen attentively to what’s being said.

With this guide you’re well on your way to being cured of the dreaded holiday party.