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Why You May Have a Hard Time Hearing at Parties …
Plus Loads of Other Party Survival Tips



It’s that time of year -- holiday party season overloaded with family get-togethers, office parties, grab bags and other festive events. While these times are meant to be filled with joy and anticipation, it also may induce feelings of stress, anxiety and worry.

Do you struggle to hear people at parties? Your brain, not your ears, may be to blame!

Making matters worse for those who are already apprehensive in social situations is what one study deems the “cocktail party problem.” This is when people have difficulty hearing a conversation in a noisy room due to an inability to filter out the background noises.

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Rochester in New York, the brain’s dimmer switch that is responsible for controlling input from your ears, tells the ears to reduce their flow of signals to the brain in noisy situations. This part of the brain begins to falter as you get older and affects the hearing of one-third of adults ages 65-75.

So if you have a hard time hearing it may not be your ears’ fault at all, but rather your brain’s!

What can you do if you have a hard time hearing during this season’s festivities?

Researchers suggest facing the person you’re speaking to so you can read their facial expressions for cues. Asking to move to a quieter place to talk when having difficulty understanding party guests is also a perfectly acceptable option.

Small Talk Makes for Big Anxiety

For some people suffering from extreme shyness or social anxiety disorder, the very thought of having to make small talk with coworkers or socializing at a large family party brings a lot of distress -- to the point you may feel terrified and make up excuses to get out of social gatherings.

A shy person may experience unease and discomfort at the thought of attending a party while someone with a social anxiety disorder will experience physical reactions such as nausea, dizziness, fast heart rate and sweating. People with social anxiety disorder also experience feelings of self-consciousness that come from fears of making mistakes or being humiliated in front of others. You may also fear being closely watched, judged and criticized by others.

Whether it’s business or social, any way you look at it, keeping a conversation or maintaining small talk at social get-togethers can be an ordeal -- especially if you don’t know anyone other than the host(s) of the party.

It may help to change your mindset and view these situations as opportunities to develop friendships, connect with others and expand your networks.

Effective small talk isn’t something learned on the job or in a classroom, it’s a personality trait that can be developed and sharpened with some practice. By polishing this skill you can develop long-lasting rapports with others and leave a positive impression.

Here are a few tips to help you through the holidays:

  • Ease your fears by knowing that most people aren’t completely focused on you and your every move. On the contrary, most people are worrying about how they look, what they are saying and what others are thinking of them. You can break the ice and reduce stress by paying a compliment to someone at the party.

  • Don’t rely on alcohol or drugs to relieve your anxiety. Although initial thoughts may be that a drink or two might take the edge off and help you socially, the effects are just the opposite as alcohol and drugs can heighten anxious feelings and may trigger panic attacks.

  • It’s okay to turn down party invitations. Pick and choose the parties you will attend. Don’t overwhelm yourself by feeling an obligation to accept every party invitation that comes your way. Overbooking yourself with parties will bring on stress and anxiety and take the joy out of the holiday season.

8 Ways to Refine Your Small Talk Techniques

  • Make a good first impression: Start with a smile, handshake and eye contact when you first meet someone. Then make a point to remember the person’s name and use it during the conversation.

  • Get people to open up and get the conversation going by asking them about themselves: You can ask them how they know the host of the party or about their interests, holiday plans, their kids or the most recent book they’ve read. Stay away from heated topics such as religion and politics.

  • Keep the conversation going by asking open-ended questions: Using open-ended question gets the person you’re talking to to open up and avoids dead-end conversation answers such as yes or no. Some examples of conversation starters are “What kind of activities or sports are your kids involved in this year?” or “How do you know the host of the party?”

  • Be careful with questions you ask business acquaintances: Keep to safe topics and avoid personal questions. If you don’t know the person that well or haven’t seen them in a while and make the mistake of asking them how their significant other is doing only to find that they are no longer together, it could put the both of you in an awkward situation.

  • Try not to come across as an FBI agent: Asking prying questions pertaining to their marital status and whether or not they have children can turn people off and can become conversation stoppers.

  • Pay attention to the body language you are conveying to others: If you are coming across as nervous or anxious, others will pick up on that and become uncomfortable themselves. Always act as if you are confident and you will come across that way.

  • Come to the party with a few conversation topics: Having things on hand to talk about will help you during an awkward lull in conversation. Take some time to come up with three topics you’re comfortable with and enjoy talking about to pull out when needed. If you’re looking for interesting talking topics you can read SixWise’s past newsletters for some ideas /newsletters/newsletters.htm.

  • Don’t stay talking with the same person or group for the whole party: Move around and mix and mingle with others. Have some exit lines prepared to be able to say when you’re ready to move on and talk with other people.

  • Make a strong impression before walking away from someone: Leave on a positive note by shaking hands, telling them how you’ve enjoyed talking to them and saying goodbye as you make your way to another group of people.

  • Bringing a gift or creative dish to the party for the host can be used as a conversation starter. You can make and bring a healthy dessert using the Gluten-Free French Desserts and Baked Goods cookbook. "Gluten-Free French Desserts And Baked Goods" provides recipes -- over 100 in all -- for a dazzling array of quick breads, tarts, cakes, puddings, custards, crêpes, cookies, brownies, and bars -- all imaginatively reformulated for gluten-free diets. So if you want to make a statement by bringing a homemade dessert to the party … this is THE cookbook for you.

Your gift to the host of the party can also initiate lively conversation. At SixWise we highly recommend these three unique, and interesting, gift ideas:

  • MiniMate Refrigerator Unit: This is a clever way for your host to keep their healthy food FRESH longer after spending hours of preparation for the party. The MiniMate is an evolution of that old box of baking soda you probably have in your refrigerator.

Using FDA-approved activated oxygen technology, the MiniMate can eliminate most of the germs or mold that may be living on your foods without harming the food or leaving behind any residue. So the MiniMate not only keeps your food safer and healthier, it also saves you money by cutting down on the amount of food you have to throw out and replace. It easily extends the freshness and life of many foods by three to four times.

  • Aromatherapy Misters: You can give the host feelings of peace and relaxation with a soothing aromatherapy mister in a calming lavender scent. At SixWise we like to use Vermont Organic’s aromatherapy personal spray misters to invigorate our spirits and relieve stress.

Vermont Organics commitment to making all natural, effective, and environmentally friendly products can bring sanity to your stress-filled world, too. Try their Aromatherapy Personal Spray Misters in wonderful scents like Lemongrass Zen, Country Lavender or Peppermint Magic

  • Give the Pure Relaxation CD to help relax and soothe the exhausted host. The guided meditations and music on this CD calm your mind, soothe your emotions and create a state of deep relaxation in your body. Using these guided meditations regularly will help you to live in a more relaxed way and you'll notice that when you begin to feel stressed, you'll be able to relax more easily than before.

Surprise the Host of the Party With One of These Great Gift Ideas

Keep Your Healthy Fruits and Veggies Fresh Longer With the MiniMate Refrigerator Unit!

The MiniMate works hard at extending the life of your fruits and veggies. The MiniMate:

  • Features an activated oxygen generator to eliminate odors, keep foods fresher longer and kill bacteria in your refrigerator

  • Naturally kills odors without any cover-up scents or fragrance

  • Reduces food spoilage and prevents cross-contamination of food odors

  • Breaks down pesticides and herbicides on produce

Find More About the MiniMate Refrigerator Unit Now!

Bring Calm and Peace Into Your Life After a Hard Day With Aromatherapy Misters!

For a quick aromatherapy treatment use a spray of the aromatherapy personal spray mister by Vermont Organics.

Available in a fun, convenient four-ounce size, feel free to spray these wonderful scents on yourself, even your linens, to invigorate your spirits and relieve stress.

Available in three different scents:

  • Lemongrass Zen: Water, natural lemongrass essential oil blend, castile liquid soap made with organic oils

  • Country Lavender: Water, natural lavender essential oil blend, castile liquid soap made with organic oils

  • Peppermint Magic: Water, natural peppermint essential oil blend, castile liquid soap made with organic oils

Order Your Host a Vermont Organics Aromatherapy Mister Today!

Relax With the Premier Guided Meditation CD

The Pure Relaxation CD will calm your mind, soothe your emotions and create a state of deep relaxation in your body. These meditations are unique in that they guide the listener to relax in a natural, effortless way.

Learn more about the
Pure Relaxation CD Now!

Making the Most of Your Office Holiday Party

Due to low budgets and cutbacks this year’s holiday office parties are smaller and more and more being held at the office as opposed to restaurants and high-end hotels.

According to a survey by Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., 62 percent of companies nationwide are holding holiday parties this year compared to 77 percent in 2008.

There are specific guidelines and rules to follow if you are planning on attending a work-related holiday function -- and letting your hair hang down, drinking shots and engaging in harmless flirting are not on the list. Don’t forget that even though it’s a party, it is still a company function and you are expected to keep a sense of professionalism.

If you stick to these five office party etiquette tips you can have fun, leave a good impression with your co-workers and managers and not become the topic of conversation around the water cooler the next day.

  1. Make an appearance at the party: If you see yourself staying at the company for the long run, make it a priority to stop by even if it’s for a short time. You might not realize it, but someone at your company is keeping track of who and who did not attend the party. Find out before the party if you can bring a guest or if it’s for employees only.

  2. Dress festively, yet tastefully: No matter where the holiday party is being held it is important to keep in mind that it is a business function. Take a pass on the form-fitting little black dress and save it for the clubs or your weekends out on the town. If you’re unsure of the holiday attire, feel free to talk to your manager about it. In any case, the rule of thumb is to avoid wearing anything too flashy or revealing.

  3. Drink, eat and be merry in moderation: Holiday parties are a time to have fun and relax, in a sensible matter. This isn’t the time to go overboard with eating or drinking, particularly if you have a problem with alcohol or are a light drinker. If this is the case, it would be the safest not to drink at all and go with non-alcoholic beverages instead.

  4. Walk around and socialize with others you normally don’t get a chance to talk to: Venture out of your safety box of co-worker friends and try to mingle and network with other departments, management and out-of-town guests. Keep the conversation light and talk about work-related topics like team successes and safe personal topics, avoiding hot buttons such as politics or religion. Never use this as a time to talk negatively about anyone at the company.

  5. Mind your manners: Practice common etiquette rules and go to the party on your best behavior. Top management along with your boss will be there and you’ll want to leave a positive impact on them. Walk up to people and greet them warmly and find those people who were behind approving and planning the party and extend your gratitude for the party. If you really want to get in good graces you could take it one step further and send a thank you card further expressing your appreciation for the party.

Recommended Reading (Gift SAVINGS Ideas with FREE SHIPPING Today):

What NOT to Do When Shopping for Holiday Gifts: 11 Key Steps

Why is so much already SOLD OUT?! Don’t SNOOZE, You’ll LOSE!

How Your Body Language Conveys Confidence, Intelligence and Trust ... or a Lack There of

15 Ways to Improve Your Charisma

How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure


ABCNews December 29, 2008

WebMd December 1, 2009

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