Our expert says:
I am highly sceptical about many so-called "team building" exercises, though they are very profitable for those who organize them, I see very very little evidence that they are actually useful or effective.
Anyhow. It sounds, though, as though you may feel generally uneasy in social settings, especially when they threaten to be rather unstructured and not strictly work-related. There may be a degree of social anxiety disorder or maybe merely ordinary shyness, both of which can respond well to simple psychological assistance.
Whether its a must is a matter of company policy. I don't believe such exercises should ever be made compulsory, but some companies take them very seriously. Why not have a chat ( 1 on 1 !) with your manager, and discuss how you feel uneasy about expressing yourself in larger numbers of people, and asking his advice on how you can react to this ? As Disco says, you may find it less intimindating than you are expecting, and yes, it would be better to plead tiredness and retire to your room in the commonplace alcohol fueled later night sessions.
The you'll be feeling well rested in the morning while the others nurse their hangovers !
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