This is a good rule to employ. Don’t be that person closing the party at 4am in the morning when the cleaners are coming in.
By DEREK BBANGA
I will be the first to admit that a little alcohol in the system makes for an honest, wittier, more stimulating conversation but in business, take your cues from your company culture and the behaviour of your co-workers. Observe if successful employees and managers drink at company events.
If you do not drink for personal, religious or philosophical reasons, there is no need to. No matter the reason, you should never feel obligated to do something you would rather not. Neither should you feel the need to offer any explanation; merely order something you would enjoy drinking. If someone asks you why you are not drinking alcohol, you can respond with, “I much prefer this right now.” Then move the conversation onto another topic. When you are not sure if the other people will be drinking, play it safe and order something non-alcoholic.
When unwinding with co-workers or fellow professionals, it’s okay to have few drinks to loosen up or relax and not seem prudish, especially in a party type setting. Everyone’s body chemistry is different but know your limits — when to call it a night and go home.
I can’t make a blanket statement about what you should or shouldn’t do, as each circumstance is unique and is so dependent upon what others are doing. However, you need to consider the effects of drinking too much on your relationships with your co-workers, your professional reputation, your relationship with your manager, the office gossip mill and your own view of yourself.
Recently, I attended a conference, with most participants flying in from out of town. As is customary for these types of conferences, there was plenty of free time in the evenings and as it turned out, due to the largesse of the sponsors, there was an open bar. I was faced with a dilemma. Take advantage of the free drinks or refrain accordingly? I have to admit I caved, and not to seem like a complete anti-social, I said why not?
But being in the business of having to practice what I preach, I kept it cool drinking lots of water as well and constantly munching on something. As the night progressed and the drinks flowed easily, people became rowdier, language became bawdier and the dancing became looser. Some folks acquitted themselves admirably, while others were clearly suffering from the effects of over imbibing.
Maybe the only thing worse than making a drunken fool of yourself with your co-workers or professional peers is showing up late to work the next day (or not at all), clearly hung over and unable to function. Not only will you be seen as irresponsible, you may be costing your company and clients a lot of money.
One way to avoid this is once you make your drink decision for the night, stick to that poison all night. People usually steer in the wrong direction when it comes to mixing drinks. Bouncing all over the place from vodka to gin to whisky to beer to wine only leads to trouble and a leaden head the next day.
Another thing to remember is that as you get older, your recovery time takes longer. Things I could do at age 22 I cannot do at 32, like shots. Shots to me are always a turning point in the evening between relaxed fun and things rapidly going downhill. So save those tequila shots for when you are on holiday with your best friends and not with your co-workers or professional peers.
Drinking with clients
Ideally when you are entertaining a client, you shouldn’t drink or you should limit yourself to only one drink if they are going to have a drink. If they do not order an alcoholic beverage, you probably shouldn’t either. Realise that you are on show as a representative for your company.
Remember, it is one thing to celebrate great work together in the appropriate setting, quite another to have regular liquid lunches with potential or existing clients.
Also, be aware of the setting: after work drinks with co-workers is one thing; drinks at lunch whether with co-workers or clients is usually a no-no.
Alcohol loosens our inhibitions, so be aware of drinking and hitting on co-workers or clients or getting over amorous with them. Sure it sounds obvious, but it happens all the time and a move on the wrong person could be potentially fatal to you and your career. So avoid setting yourself up by having too many drinks.
Another good rule to employ is to say to yourself, “I’ll have one less.” Instead of the usual, “Let’s have one more,” just say to yourself, “I’m going to have one less.”
Don’t be that person closing the party at 4am in the morning when the cleaners are coming in. And if you hear the words open bar – go against the grain and start off with juice or a soft drink rather than join the scrum for the free beer. Delaying the inevitable as long as possible will help you drink less. So be smart, drink responsibly. Cheers!
Derek Bbanga helps professionals improve their soft skills and communication skills through Public Image Africa www.publicimageafrica.com.
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