Because it's officially the holiday season, which means family and friends and dinner parties and reunions and more family, I thought I'd share a little party trick that I've been employing and that really works.
I didn't invent this wheel. I got the idea from Don Miller, but now I can't find the post on his blog. I wish I could, though, because his descriptions of saying just the wrong thing - out of insecurity or out of that second glass of wine or out of sheer habit - was just how I feel in social situations. I can be counted on to say at least one thing that is cringe-worthy.
As I interpreted it, he suggested this: Before the social gathering, articulate out loud exactly what you don't want to say, and then hopefully you'll remember your rule in that crucial moment before it tumbles out of your mouth.
It goes like this:
Just before I head to the party or dinner or gathering, I tell The Gorilla three things that I'm scared I'm going to say or do. I try to keep the list manageable, between three and five.
I'll use book club as an example, although that's one place where I actually don't censor myself. But if I were having social anxiety about book club for some reason, I might swear to my husband that I wouldn't
a) Drone on and on about the book I just read that wasn't actually the book club book.
b) Drink more than one mimosa because that makes me a little too uninhibited for brunch-time.
c) Bring up that one time when no one read the book, because it always makes everyone feel guilty and uncomfortable.
It works! I've tried it several times and can gleefully report that I've opened my mouth to say something that would definitely be a mistake, and the very act of having given myself the rule makes me close it, crisis averted.
I have a sneaking suspicion that some of you might appreciate this little party trick this week.