Why You Should Say Yes to Those Holiday Party Invitations

Why You Should Say Yes to Those Holiday Party Invitations

This time of year many of us experience some mix of angst and overwhelm when we receive invitations to attend yet another holiday party. If you are an introvert, like me (I know this comes as a surprise to anyone who has heard me speak or lead workshops), and find such large group social interactions a bit stressful, here is my advice: Say, yes!

Many of you know that the first lesson of improvisation is to say, “yes, and . . .” This means accepting every offer and agreeing to build on it because every invitation likely holds an unexpected opportunity.

Whether the decision to go feels exciting or laborious, remember that a holiday party is a new opportunity to strengthen and engage your Relational Web and you should take it!

A study of 180 teams at google found that the most productive employees intentionally build the largest networks. How? By regularly rotating their dining partners!

Holiday parties are a unique opportunity to maintain and create relationships because they are a natural time to connect, share resources and learn about others. At a recent HR association holiday party, I met a Boston University alum, my undergrad alma mater, and rediscovered a whole new opportunity for expanding my Relational Web via the alumni network.

In the spirit of saying, “Yes and…”

Here are six steps to building your Relational Web this season:

    1. Be Intentional – Setting down the hot cocoa and warm blanket to go to a holiday party shows you are being intentional about  building your relationships. Do you have some gaps in your Relational Web that need filling in? Maybe you are looking for an executive coach to recommend to a client or additional marketing resources. Remember, those that are successful don’t leave their agility to chance
    2. Reconnect – Holiday parties provide a casual atmosphere to reconnect with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Start by seeking out familiar faces and find out what they are most proud of or excited about in their work or other areas of their life this past year. This will set the stage for you to expand out of your comfort zone and meet new people.
    3. Extend Your Reach –  If you started with a familiar face, ask them who they think you should meet to expand and diversify your Relational Web, or even better, who else might benefit from connecting to others in your network. Be bold and warmly, introduce yourself to those you don’t know. My experience is that most people are relieved that someone new is joining their conversation, or rescuing them from standing solo by the miniature quiche table.
    4. Share Your Passion, then Listen   Be enthusiastic. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious and will open up the conversation. Some of my favorite non-work topics are skiing (though be careful of showing too much interest!), recent travel adventures and the latest developments in arts and culture. Be sure your enthusiasm doesn’t hi-jack the conversation. Share just enough to give others a chance to share theirs.
    5. Exchange Ideas  Not all resources are tangible. Festive settings offer a unique opportunity for free-flowing dialogue.  Find out what others are excited about or working on and offer to connect them to skills, knowledge, talent and other resources in your Relational Web.
    6. Remember to Follow Up –  Did you thank the host or organizer, or follow up with your new connections with the promised link to an article you mentioned or that tour guide from your recent trip to Athens? Establishing yourself as a reliable resource is the first step to expanding your own resources.

Remember, the time to weave your web of skills, knowledge, talent, and resources is NOT when the unexpected challenge or opportunity hits, but day in and day out. Those upcoming holiday parties are ready-made for this. Say, “Yes!” and start weaving!

Are you looking for more ways to improve your Agility? Take the complimentary Agility Shift Inventory Today!

The Agility Shift Inventory (ASI) offers individual leaders, teams and entire organizations an opportunity to become more aware of the state of agility in their current context. This awareness is the first step in beginning a generative conversation and receiving guidance about where your energy and resources will be most effectively spent to improve business performance.

Give the Gift of Agility

Give the Gift of Agility

There can be no doubt, the holiday season is upon us! I’m certain that many of you, like myself, are currently sorting through a barrage of shopping bags and cyber sales, and like me, you find yourself in search of a meaningful gift for each person on your list.

After a year of great work, I particularly enjoy recognizing colleagues, mentees and team members with a token of my appreciation. I’ve found gift cards, customized coffee mugs and stylish office supplies were appreciated (if only for the thought), but having worked with many colleagues for years, I sometimes needed a fresh idea.  This year I’ve been thinking about ways to give the gift of agility.

Here are four ideas that might fit the bill for your colleagues and team members:

Give a Stretch Experience

Offer to cover the cost of a stretch experience up to a set amount. The only guideline being that it offers a chance for your team members to venture beyond their routine and do something that scares them.  Afterward have them share their experience and lessons learned with the rest of the team.



Give Improvisation  

Improv classes are a great way to help people out of their comfort zones. While having fun and building their confidence your team will expand their ability to think and collaborate on their feet. In the Chicago area, check out the Training Center at CSz Chicago http://www.cszchicago.com/training-center/, or many other great options near you.


Give The Agility Shift to Your Team

Share a book on business Agility that you’ve enjoyed. Your colleagues and team members will appreciate you sharing a book that has impacted your own professional development. Don’t stop there, everyone loves a party; include an invitation to your first Agile Book Club gathering. Bringing the team together for a book and/or journal club is a great way to build community, generate ideas and reinforce a culture of collaboration and resource sharing. I can recommend reading The Agility Shift as a fun and engaging way to kick off the series! http://pamela-meyer.com


Give the Gift of Giving Back 

One of the most rewarding ways to give is when you see the immediate impact of your gift in your community in a way that reinforces your values. This year Meyer Creativity Associates is supporting the values of innovation, arts and youth education with a donation to The Albany Park Theater Project. If you already have a relationship with a non-profit or community organization, identify their current needs and organize a gift to help them meet those needs. Better yet, organize a volunteer day or afternoon to support the organization as a team. Not sure how to find the right fit? You can identify a volunteer opportunity in the Chicago area by checking out https://www.chicagocares.org or find an opportunity anywhere in the US at https://www.volunteermatch.org.

What gifts are you giving this year to recognize your colleagues’?

Three Ways Fools Foster Creativity

One of the most powerful influencers of the available space for new ideas and perspectives are the people who are willing to be “foolish” when everyone else around them is overly stressed, serious, or attached to their own ideas. It is particularly apt to celebrate these fools today, a day where we play practical jokes, take ourselves a little less seriously, and loosen our grip on our well-honed “brand identities.”

My father, pictured here, was the earliest “April Fool” in my life. In my formative years, he was an architect by day, as well as a master of silliness and innovation. There was no idea or adventure too outlandish to at least get air time, if not actual exploration and implementation—including designing a childhood fantasy room for me with no walls, hanging from the ceiling, and seriously considering building a small airplane in the garage (he was also a pilot) that he would fly to and from work using the pond behind our house as his landing strip.

As with most of our parental relationships, mine with my father, became more complicated than this early role he played for me. And, today, I choose to celebrate his foolishness and all of the playspace he gave me permission to explore in my own life and work. I invite you to celebrate the April Fools in your life, today, too, and acknowledge all of the ways they foster innovating, learning and changing around them:

April Fools Take Permission: They don’t wait around to find out what the rules are, or monitor their behavior for fear of what others might think or say. Permission-Taker’s foster creativity and learning by provoking our sensibilities, pushing the envelope and sometimes making us a bit uncomfortable. These permission-takers create more space for all of us to step out of our familiar ways of thinking, being and doing and risk a bit of foolishness ourselves.

April Fools Give Permission: By being the first, biggest and/or loudest to play around with new ideas, experiment with new identities, create more play in the system, and room for improvised play, April Fools give everyone else permission to do the same. The safety and encouragement they foster are essential for many people to risk the discomfort that comes with exploring the previously uncharted territory of innovating, learning and changing.

April Fools Help Us Lighten Up: I once heard a lab director report that he knew his scientists were on the brink of a new discovery when he heard laughter coming down the hallway. It is often in the midst of silliness when we can literally play around with new ideas and perspectives, and make break-through discoveries and insights.

Just as the fools and court jesters of the Middle Ages and beyond took permission to say things to royalty that others wouldn’t dare, when we ourselves risk foolishness, we can provoke fresh thinking and new perspectives, and help others loosen their grip on their cherished identities and routines. Long live the fool!

What if your work was fun?

This 2 minute video is a great example of what a difference a little fun makes in our desire to do things, even things we know we “should” do (like exercise) and things we intend to do (like learn a new skill).

Inserting a little fun helps create playspace which entices us to engage in activities we might otherwise avoid/put off, and it energizes us and leaves us more open to new ideas, perspectives, and generally more connected to our fellow humans.

What if we spent a little more time thinking about ways to make key aspects of organizational life more fun?