an office holiday party … before you’ve started your new job

A reader writes:

I am starting a new position and just received an email invitation from the department manager for his staff holiday party. The party is on a Friday night and I don’t actually start my position with the company until the following Monday. I will literally only know two people at the party, the host and the other supervisor who interviewed me.

I tend to be really quiet until I get to know people and I am worried it will be horribly awkward if I attend. On the other hand, I haven’t started the job yet, so I don’t know how important this kind of stuff is and the last thing I want to do is offend people before I even start. What is your take on this? I know you have talked before about how managers can throw parties their staff want to attend but I have no idea what this will be like or where to go from here. Any thoughts?

At this time of year, it’s pretty common to have lots of commitments so you could certainly get away with saying that you already have something scheduled that night. (Actually, you could get away with saying that at any time of year.)  You could thank him profusely, say you wish you could go because you’d love to meet everyone ahead of time, explain that unfortunately you already have a commitment for that night, and send your regrets. That won’t be held against you unless this is a very odd and dysfunctional company.

But, you should consider going. I doubt very much that it will be horribly awkward — if your new coworkers are at all normal, they’ll probably be really interested to meet the new person and get to know you. And then you’ll actually know a few people on your first day of work. And you don’t have to stay for the entire thing (unless it’s on a boat! in which case you’ll be trapped and shouldn’t go!  we need to end office parties on boats); you can go for an hour and then leave if you’re hating it.

Also, is it a big company or a smaller one? At a small company, you can count on people introducing themselves, etc. At a bigger one, you’re more likely to blend into the crowd and not be noticed; in this case, bring a date, have a nice time together for an hour, leave, and still get the points for showing up.

Of course, I say all this as an introvert who dreads little more than having to socialize in a roomful of strangers, so if you can’t stomach the thought of going, you have the official Ask a Manager blessing to send your regrets and hide out on your couch that night.

You can read an update to this post here.

{ 59 comments… read them below }

  1. Kim Stiens

    I am also an introvert, and there’s one thing I’ve learned: as much as I’ve dearly loved hanging out at home (and cherishing time where you don’t have to do anything or meet anyone or have to pretend to be anything you’re not), I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities in my past. Every interaction with every person builds a rapport and, in the case of the workplace, having the opportunity to get to know people in a professional but not on the clock context is really valuable! I would recommend going and, while acting with professionalism and comport, chill out!

  2. JT

    Another introvert, and skipping my office party this year. But if I was in the OP’s position I would go – this is a jump-start on your new job. I’d do the quick tour of the room to say hi to my manager and a few other random people for an hour, then split.

    Also, I find viewing semi-social/semi-professional occasions as “work” and giving myself explicit goals (generally to introduce myself to X number of people) makes them easier to handle than wandering around and trying to have “fun.” It keeps me focused and takes my mind off how draining they can be. Work is tiring and not always fun, right? So that helps me feel better about it.

  3. fposte

    There’s a split the difference possibility, too, where you go for an hour or whatever but must leave because of a prior commitment (“I’m sorry I can’t stay, but it was such a nice, welcoming invitation that I couldn’t pass up the chance to meet you all!”). Speaking as another introvert, I’m more comfortable striking out if I’ve got an exit strategy ready.

    1. CK

      THIS. As a fellow introvert, I can speak from experience that planning an exit strategy helps me to enjoy social events rather than dread them – I know I have x hours I can give, then politely bow out as I’ve already told the hosts I have another commitment to get to.

      The majority of the commenters are recommending that you attend and I agree with them. Even if you only go for an hour to “make an appearance”, you can meet your new team and get to know them in a more casual environment. Plus, on Monday, when your co-workers are talking about the party and all the funny things that Joe said or Bob did, you can participate in the conversations and not feel like the odd one out.

  4. lexy

    Haha… I was about to comment “unless its on a boat” my old company did that one year and it was just a couple weeks after I started so I still didn’t know people. I’m an extrovert and it was still pretty painful!

    But if it’s not on a boat you can go and introduce yourself to some people and leave early if you want, so I say do it.

  5. Clobbered

    I detest parties…. But you should try make yourself go if you can. Your first day at work has the potential of going so much better if people have met you before – and if this place is any good, they will have a mother-hen type person who will introduce you around.

    But yeah, no reason why you have to stay for more than an hour. And if you really really don’t want to go, don’t make a big song and dance about it, just say “I am not sure I will be able to make it but thank you”

  6. Fidelli

    I agree you should go, but do have an exit strategy in place. Also, ask the managers you do know to introduce you to people you’ll be working closely with as soon as you arrive. But the most important thing is don’t drink, or at the very least nurse one glass of wine. Some workplace parties are booze-fests, and when you’re nervous it can be really easy not to monitor your drinking properly. I know it sounds obvious, but I’ve seen it happen. Years ago a guy turned up at our Christmas party who wasn’t starting until the Monday. Admittedly it was a fairly boisterous fancy dress party, but he got really, really drunk. Since we didn’t know him at all, we didn’t have anything else to base our impression of him on, so he instantly became “the crazy new guy”. Not good.

  7. Eva

    I’m not sure I understand the rationale for all the commenters who are recommending going. What’s the benefit for anyone of having a newcomer attend an office party? They should invite her as a matter of politeness, since she will find out about the party on Monday, but I would argue that the polite thing to do is to bow out gracefully by claiming prior commitments. The reason is that very few people have the confidence and social skills to bring anything to an office party as a newcomer.

    At best, office parties provide an opportunity to be social with coworkers and generate goodwill that can make the work day go smoother, but someone who hasn’t started yet won’t usually be ready to be on the giving end of that kind of interaction – and if they are, they often err in the other direction of being too histrionic and insufficiently focused on the other person which also creates a negative impression.

    And at every office there are “social leeches” who love nothing better than to prey on a vulnerable newcomer at an office party. It is too easy to get off on the wrong foot with the social leech because you were grateful for their friendliness at the office party and ended up talking with them for so long and so intimately that it becomes difficult to shut down the relationship afterward.

    So unless you’re among the very best of socializers who are able to relax and engage a bunch of strangers with enough social finesse so that they will genuinely look forward to working with you, what’s the benefit outweighing the costs of showing up?

  8. JT

    The benefit is a different lens on your co-workers. Getting insight into their personalities in the office may take months in the office, but can appear much more quickly at an event like this. You learn about people by seeing them in a range of different situations, and this is an opportunity for that.

    “And at every office there are “social leeches” who love nothing better than to prey on a vulnerable newcomer at an office party.”

    I’ve been lucky to have not seen that. But even if it’s true, ignore it. Work the room. Work it for insight on your co-workers, and if you’re up to it, networking yourself. That’s a skill even introverts can develop. That’s a skill that can help in your professional life.

    1. Scott M

      ” The benefit is a different lens on your co-workers”
      I’ve never understood this. What more do I need to know about my coworkers than what I can find out about them at work?

      1. Jamie

        This. I’m sure my co-workers all have facets to them that I don’t see in the office…and I’m good with that.

        Knowing that you are charming at a social event doesn’t make your numbers any more accurate. I know all I need to know about them from work.

      2. Joe

        I have always worked better on teams where I know more about my teammates than just how they perform their work duties. If you know and like your coworkers, you’ll have a more collegial, cooperative atmosphere, and the overall quality of both your work and your work-life will improve. (Of course, this depends on having likable coworkers, but since I make that a criteria of whether I want to take a job, I’ve generally done well in that area.)

        I go out to lunch with my coworkers regularly, and we talk about non-work things. We go out for drinks sometimes. We have an office holiday party. We have occasional team outings for bowling or picnics in the park or other things like that. All of these make for a better work atmosphere, and better work.

        1. Scott M

          This is sort of like saying that the best form of government is a wise and benevolent dictator. Sure, such a ruler is great, but the next dictator might not be as wise or benevolent, and the power he wields would be put to devastating use.

          It would be wonderful if we were all great friends with our coworkers. But we CAN’T guarantee we will be friends with EVERYONE. The only thing we really have in common with our coworkers, is that we all work for the same company.

          Therefore, it’s best to learn to function with our coworkers on a professional, yet distant, level.
          If you really connect with a coworker, by all means become friends! But don’t treat other coworkers less charitably because you AREN’T friends.

          1. Joe

            If you start out by assuming that you shouldn’t like your coworkers, you won’t like your coworkers. If you consider team fit an important part of your hiring process, then you will hire people who fit in with your team. You don’t have to be friends with everyone on your team (and that’s never going to happen), but you can say that you do have to be friendly with everyone on your team.

            I work at an organization where Team is a core value, and where we care whether employees get along with their teammates and coworkers. And, in fact, at least once, we’ve had someone on my team who we suggested should look for a new job (we didn’t fire him, but we might’ve if he hadn’t agreed with us) because even though the quality of his coding work was quite good, his attitude towards his teammates was standoffish and distant, and he just couldn’t or wouldn’t fit in with the rest of the team. I know, some people may consider this crazy; if his code was good, what else matters, right? Well, happiness matters, and if you inject someone into an environment who will make himself or others unhappy, you lose productivity. So I think this was the right decision, and I am glad I work for an organization that feels the same way.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Hmmm, this is interesting to me. I’d fire someone who was a *jerk* to other members of the team, but distant isn’t jerky. I’d actually want to know why the other team members had such an issue with him being distant; it kind of seems like more their issue than his.

              Granted, I don’t know anything about your work context and maybe being able to work closely is a integral to the work being done well. In any case, I’d just say to make sure that you’re very up-front with job candidates that this is an expectation, because it would suck to be great at your job and get pushed out because you weren’t social enough, if you didn’t know ahead of time that was going to be required of you!

              1. Joe

                Being able to work closely *is* an important part of how we work. As an example of how things weren’t working: We spend 75-80% of our coding time doing pair programming. We make this clear during the interview process, and even have candidates do a pair programming exercise with us. Pair programming involves two people sitting at one computer working together to write code. After a couple of weeks on the job, this person announced that he didn’t like pair programming, worked better on his own, and wasn’t going to pair any more. When we tried to tell him pairing was mandatory, he was uncommunicative (and really, standoffish, the word I used early, is how I would best describe this) with his pairing partners, and would not work well with them.

              2. Ask a Manager Post author

                Aha! I’m going to argue that this is about not working well with others and refusing to do something required by the job, rather than just about not being friends with coworkers!

              3. Joe

                It’s not about being friends with coworkers, but it is about being friendly (which is the distinction I made earlier). Maybe the word friendly skews this distinction, because it sounds too much like being friends. But you have to be collegial, and get along decently when you work together. If you have to spend hours every day sharing a computer and a keyboard with someone who dislikes you, or who you dislike, your quality of work life goes down.

              4. Scott M

                Well, I think I’ve derailed this thread enough. I just wanted to get in my last 2 cents.

                I think the best word to use here is ‘professional’ instead of ‘friendly’. That implies a clear distinction between acting a certain way for business and acting a certain way for personal reasons.

                Also, I think that Joe’s situation is unique. His work environment requires people to work much more closely than usual. There is a clear distinction between someone saying “I won’t work with that person” and someone simply being less sociable in a regular workplace. It’s like a pilot saying “I can fly the plane by myself. I don’t want a copilot”. The job simply can’t be done any other way.

                In my office, people pretty much work on their own most of the time. You’ll have meetings and such, but mostly you get your assignments and go work on them alone. There is very little of the intense collaboration that Joe probably see’s. It’s perfectly acceptable to interact with coworkers mostly for business reasons. As long as you are ‘professional’ (ie, not hostile, demeaning, or just a jerk) you can be as sociable or aloof as you want.

                I like to think that I’m mostly professional. I don’t dislike any of my coworkers. THey are all nice people. But I also don’t go out to lunch with them, or go out for drinks, or do anything outside of work. We all have different lives and I really don’t see how being more friendly, beyond the polite and pleasant ‘professional’ persona I have at work, is really going to make a difference at my job.

              5. Joe

                My situation may be unusual, in the particulars of how my team operates, but even teams at my organization (which is far large than just my team) who don’t do this kind of close collaboration still select employees for culture fit and team cohesion, as well as whatever position-specific abilities are required for the position. I can think of very few people I’ve known across the org in the 4.5 years I’ve worked here that were unfriendly or that I disliked, and most of them are no longer here.

                I do agree that an office does not have to operate this way, and you can have a perfectly reasonable work environment where people dislike each other, but are good at what they do and get their jobs done. But in some offices, that’s not sufficient, which was the point I was trying to make.

  9. Dawn

    From one introvert to another, step outside the box for a little while. I feel the same way about social gatherings, especially business association-type events where I don’t know anyone. I constantly worry if I’ll find someone to talk to, will I know anyone there, will people like me, etc. Just like high school. The past couple of years, though, I’ve decided I’m going to go to these events and push myself outside my comfort zone. That’s how you begin to get to know people. I would say definitely go to the party, ask your boss to introduce you to a few people, hang out by the cheese plate for a little while, then make your excuses to leave. You might be racing out the door after an hour, or you may find someone who’s interesting to talk to and won’t even notice the night has flown by. You’ll at least have broken the ice before Monday morning.

    1. JT

      As introverts, it’s normal to not enjoy doing these things. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to do them. Social skills are just that, skills. As such they can be practiced. At an event, you pick someone, go up to them an introduce yourself, ask what they do, and maintain eye contact when listening and nodding. If it’s in an appropriate place, you make your elevator pitch or ask them for their opinions on the event you’re at or whatever. Have a plan. Do it, spend some time, then move to another person.

      It’s totally normal to not enjoy doing this, particularly in a crowded place. I generally don’t. But I get annoyed at introverted people who say they “can’t” do it. No, we don’t enjoy doing it, which is not the same. Treat it like any skill that is useful for work: plan, practice, do.

      And after a while, if it’s too tiring or stressful, find the host, say goodbye and leave. Or if it’s really crowded, just leave.

      1. Laurie

        Great advice. Being enigmatic or charming may be a personality thing, but being polite and interested is definitely a skill that can be practiced and perfected. Also, it’s not like introverts are not social with people they know well – the trick is in figuring out how to apply those skills when conversing with people they don’t know.

  10. Anonymous

    Yep, agree. Go, as a fellow introvert I too can sympathise …but this is a good idea. Prepare the ground so that you can escape early claiming commitments if it gets terrible…

    Good luck :)

  11. Esra

    I had to do this because I had to sign my contract and the date they picked was their Christmas party and then everyone was going on break for two weeks. So awkward. Afterward I was like, can I just leave now? No one said anything.

    1. Esra

      That sounded weird. I mean no one was like “Nice to meet you Esra, see you in January!” So I felt like it would be even more awkward if I just up an left after signing. I should have come up with an excuse to go ahead of time.

  12. D

    I did this last year. I started a new job in January, but they invited me to the Christmas party. I knew a few people because I’d interned at the company before, but I didn’t know most of the people, and I was BY FAR the most junior person there. Oh, and I accidentally arrived first (after wandering into a random house in the host’s neighborhood because I couldn’t find the actual party).

    But I’m so so so glad I went. I learned a lot about the office hierarchy and the social circles within the office. One of my future bosses got a little tipsy and chatty, giving me a ton of information about office politics, including some very honest opinions about how he views certain common behaviors. I also got to participate in some firm traditions that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. I got to meet co-workers’ spouses, so I could put a face with a name when my co-workers talk about their families. I was there at some funny moments that people still reference. And, I made some friends. I went with the plan of only staying an hour, but ended up staying almost 4 hours (and was not the last person to leave by a long shot).

    Anyway, I heartily recommend going. Sure, it may be awkward, and you can leave after your designated hour. But you may end up really bonding with your co-workers and having a great time!

    1. Steve

      good point, all of those half-drunken deep conversations with your boss when they talk to you like a friend always seemed to get erased from your memory, come monday. your comment brought a flood of them back!

  13. Nichole

    Agreed that you should go, *especially* because you’re shy. Make contact with one of the people you know as soon as you arrive, and I’m guessing the whole rest of the evening will be “Sue, I want you to meet…” It will mean that before your first day you will have met most of the people that need to be on your radar beforehand, so you don’t have to go through the awkwardness of asking people you’ve never met to help you. Plus, you can learn almost everything you need to know about the office culture if you listen carefully, and that’s key to surviving as a newbie…or deciding to quietly keep sending out resumes.

  14. GeekChic

    Go if you want, don’t if you don’t. I’ve never attended holiday parties (or any other kind of work party) – even when I was a senior manager.

    Not attending parties never had a negative influence on my job at a particular place. Then again, most people don’t expect IT to be social ;).

    1. uncle

      Not going may not hurt your career but it doesn’t help it either. Networking is crucial in advancing your career …

      1. GeekChic

        That may be your experience – but it isn’t mine.

        My network has helped me solve programming problems and discuss various vendors but every job I’ve gotten (and I’ve had many in three countries) and every promotion I’ve gotten has come outside my network.

        No advice works in all situations for all people.

  15. Wayne Schofield

    My first thought…what a great company you are going to work for!!! How thoughtful of them to realize everyone is going to be talking about the office party on Monday morning when you start and for you to not feel left out they sent you an invitation.

    As far as showing up or not. Absolutely show up, make yourself known to your new boss and have him introduce you to a few co-workers and do the best you can. You can’t be expected to work the room, so just lay low and let folks come to you.

    Should you choose not to go I feel that you should absolutely thank your manager on Monday morning for the invitation and let him/her know you appreciated it. If they ask why you didn’t go…you are on your own. Just try not to use up too many excuses because if you are that anti-Holiday party you are going to need them for the coming years.
    Best for a wonderful Holiday party season! :)
    Wayne Schofield
    Founder – Night and Day Resume

  16. Ask a Manager Post author

    Is it just me, or is there a disproportionate amount of introverts represented among AAM readers (based not just on this thread, but others too)? I find that interesting.

    1. Elizabeth

      Those who identify as introverted or shy might also be more likely to comment on this thread with advice, since they relate to the question-asker! But I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that people who read blogs in general are a bit more introverted.

    2. That HR Girl

      Not me. Textbook extrovert :) But even I get burned out on socialization after a few hours and need to plan an exit strategy.

    3. Katya

      I’ve noticed that on here too as well as other blogs. My guess is that introverts are more likely to participate in comment sections on blogs because it’s a good way to interact with people in a non-taxing way. I used to think of myself as an introvert, but I realize I actually do become energized from interacting with others, so I think I’m an extrovert who happens to also totally happy to be alone (I’m an only child too). But I definitely love interacting with people in blogs/forums and always have. Maybe that’s a separate type.

      1. JT

        Ditto.

        Though I masquerade as an extrovert in daily life – or at least in some situations, such as class, I talk a lot. But parties and big meetings drain me, and I’ve tested as super-introverted.

    4. arm2008

      I just figured being an introvert was the latest cool thing. I am either an outgoing introvert, or an extrovert that hates being around too many people (too many = more than 3).

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I sometimes think of myself as an outgoing introvert. As someone else here said, the key is whether you’re recharged by being around other people or by being alone.

    5. Steve

      I am an extrovert and love your blog (and christmas parties and networking events:-)), because you post alot and on alot of issues I see everyday in my crazy 60hr/week job. Nothing worse than a blogger who posts only a few times a month, there is always something going on here…

    6. Joe

      I think of myself as an introvert, but that characterization is kind of outdated. I’m definitely much more outgoing now, and I think most of my coworkers at my current job would laugh to hear me describe myself as an introvert.

  17. Laura L

    I’m pretty shy, although I’m more on the extrovert side of the scale than the introvert side. I really like being around people and it energizes me, but going into new social situations make me extremely anxious.

    I think the OP should figure out if she’s more introverted or more shy or both. If it’s more of a shyness/social anxiety issue, my recommendation is find out what as much as you can ahead of time and run through scenarios in your head that might provoke anxiety or make you uncomfortable and imagine how you’ll react to them. This usually helps decrease my anxiety.

    I also don’t open up much until I get to know people, but I’ve also found that there are plenty of things to talk about that aren’t too personal, but still allow people to get to know you and you them. You can try thinking of these things ahead of time, too.

    Anyway, if shyness isn’t the problem, feel free to ignore my advice. I just wanted to point out that shyness and introversion are not the same thing and that there are shy extroverts and not-shy introverts. It’s about where you get your energy from, not how anxious you get when interacting with people.

  18. Elizabeth

    This actually sounds like an easier situation for a new employee introvert to navigate than if you’d been there a short while already. The advantage of not knowing people at all yet is that it can make it easier to make small talk with them than if you knew them slightly. You can have some standard questions at the ready, like, “So what do you do at [company]?” and “How long have you worked here?” and “Any advice for the new guy/girl?” (You can probably come up with more specific ones than that based on the job – for example, I’m a teacher, so if I were at a social gathering for a school I’d just been hired by, I’d ask things like “Are there any fun traditions that the school has?” or “Are the parents involved a lot?”) People will hopefully be warm and introduce themselves to you. It’s also okay to admit if you feel a little awkward at not knowing anyone.

  19. Anonymous

    Since there are a lot of good comments explaining why you should go, here’s a thought on why you shouldn’t. If you’re a naturally quiet person and have a difficult time socializing with strangers, this might be your co-workers first impression of you if you attend. The quiet/shy, awkward one. Now, I don’t know you so I don’t know how you actually come across in these situations, and being the quiet, awkward one isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just something to consider. Personally, I would rather miss a party and *not* be labeled as the shy one than go and have to later endure the continual “you’re so quiet” comments. For quiet people sometimes it is easier to get to know people gradually rather than at a party. Of course being quiet doesn’t mean you’re incapable of talking to people and you should definitely try to be social, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with just being honest with yourself and saying “I’m really not good at this.” Some people will argue that you just need to practice and push yourself out of your comfort zone. I agree, but there will be other opportunities for this. You’ll still get to know your co-workers if you don’t go and you’ll be meeting them under less awkward circumstances. My point is, not going could actually work in your favor.

    1. Eva

      “Some people will argue that you just need to practice and push yourself out of your comfort zone. I agree, but there will be other opportunities for this. You’ll still get to know your co-workers if you don’t go and you’ll be meeting them under less awkward circumstances. My point is, not going could actually work in your favor.”

      That’s what I’m thinking, but it sounds like we’re in the minority here.

  20. Laurie

    Great comments for both sides of the argument. I’m an introvert too, and I’ll put in my two cents. If this were me, I would probably have this same mental war and then suck it up and go. The world around me is mostly extroverted (or pretends to be) and it matters to the extroverts that you showed up to the party and spoke with them, not as much what you said.

    Remember, the extroverts will come talk to you anyway. Wait for them, or ask the one you are talking to and there is already a handy topic of conversation – you! You know that everyone that drops by to chat with you will want to know where you worked before, what you did, if you are married, how many kids, if you are moving, where you live etc. Yes, it’s exhausting, but I find that people usually acknowledge that you showed up, and that wins you brownie points in the extrovert world (and even in the introvert world).

    Side note: AAM – Introversion in the workplace is totally a topic you should regularly do posts on. Ever since I read Jonathan Rausch’s articles a couple of years back, it has changed my life and helped me understand how I am different and how I can use it to my advantage.

  21. K

    Honestly, I would be looking for a way to get out of it until I showed up at the door. If the party is going to be pretty large, it may be a good idea to call one of your contacts and try to arrange a coffee in advance of the party with other members of your team. It will give you a way to meet a few more people in a less intimidating setting and hopefully make you feel less like an outsider at the party. But I agree with the other posters, this is a really important opportunity to start fitting yourself into the social structure of your new workplace. You don’t have to stay all night, but it is important to make the effort of an appearance.

  22. Ask a Manager Post author

    I think I’d argue that it could certainly be helpful to attend, but it’s not a problem if she doesn’t. After all, she could have some prior commitment that night, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

  23. OP

    Hi Everyone, OP here. It looks like the overwhelming response is in favor of attending and I have decided to at least make an appearance. When I opened the email, my first thought was ‘Wow its really nice that he thought to invite me’ followed quickly by ‘but that means I have to spend the night talking to people I don’t know’. To clarify, I am fine in social situations and wouldn’t really describe myself as shy at all. I am, however, an introvert and since I don’t know anyone at this party, it will be particularly tiring for me. The awkwardness is mostly an internal feeling rather than a social ineptness. When I mentioned being quiet, that is more of a day to day thing until I am comfortable with people. I tend to watch the dynamics and listen to people chat until I get a feel for things. Once I have that, I open up and join in the conversation a lot more. I suppose meeting my coworkers will feel slightly uncomfortable for me no matter when it happens so I may as well get it out. Thanks again for all of the input.

    1. Clobbered

      Well don’t forget to report back after your first day at work and tell us whether it was worth it or whether we out you through two hours of hell for nothing :-)

  24. JerseyVol

    The exact same thing happened to me, and I went because I thought it would be great to meet everyone on a social level before having to interact with them professionally. Quick funny story-my company was huge in the local area, and my boss told me the right hotel name in the wrong town, and I ended up attending a holiday party for the same company but different division. I got to meet a bunch of new people and it was a hysterical story for my first day! You never know how it might go-I recommend going and having the planned exit strategy if you’re feeling uncomfortable.

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