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Here’s the scenario: it’s nearing the end of the workday, and your coworkers invite you for an after work happy hour. Do you go or not? The answer should always be: GO! Even if you despise your coworkers, you need to pony up, fake a smile, and get going. There are several reasons for this: Going will increase your bonding with them. Not going can make you look uptight. Getting to know the people you despise may make you understand them better and hate them less, and therefore improve your work relationship. You can learn valuable things about how to work better with them. And the same works in reverse – coworkers who may dislike you, without you even knowing it, will have a chance to get to know you better and realize how fabulous you are!

Here are some tips to making it out with your career in tact:

1) Don’t drink? Go up to an area of the bar where no one will overhear you, and order a soda or energy drink. Come back, and no one will be the wiser 😉 bonus points for caffeine, it will help you rival your coworkers imbibed energy! Just dont exceed two mocktails, more than that will make them think you’re a lush!!! If you’re fine with letting them know you don’t drink, order a non alcoholic beverage in front of them. Just don’t make a big deal about it or get on a high horse. Nothing ruins the fun atmosphere like a sober person calling out other’s drunkenness.

2) Eat. I can’t say this enough. Order food at the bar. If the last time you ate was lunch, drinks are going to impair you much worse than normal. It is extremely embarrassing to be wobbling around after only two drinks. Trust me, I’ve been there!

3) Set a limit. Two drinks max. Any more and you’ll say or do things that you should not. Even if you have the tolerance of a bull, stick to two. Perceptions matter. Also set a time limit. Even if you only have two drinks, staying late is a bad idea, if others get too drunk, you don’t want them to embarrass themselves in front of you (more on that below).

4) Don’t talk about work. We spend 40+ hours a week doing it, why waste precious time off doing it? On another note, now is not the time to pitch ideas to your superiors.  If you are drinking with upper management, they will appreciate you for not bothering them with shop talk while they’re trying to relax.

5) Don’t gossip. Yes, it’s tempting as hell to bad mouth your douchebag boss, lazy coworker, Etc. but don’t do it!!! Even If others are doing the bashing, don’t partake! Believe me, it can and will get back to other people. Need to vent? Call a friend or spouse instead.

6) Karaoke: proceed with caution, and choose your songs wisely.

7) Watch out for sexual context. Yes, drinking brings that out in people. Casual conversation can easily cross into dangerous territory when alcohol is involved. Watch how your words can be perceived, (we’ve all said things before that were taken in a way we didn’t mean!) and watch others’ words as well. If you feel like the conversation is getting weird, change the subject to something neutral, like current events, casually mention your significant other if you have one, or find and excuse to leave.

8) Shots: just say no. Not only will it paint you in an unprofessional light, it will make you too drunk too fast to be classy about it.

9) Try to not let others embarrass themselves in front of you. This rule seems weird, I know, but hear me out: Have you ever embarrassed yourself or spilled a terrible secret to someone when you’re drunk, and the next day you don’t want to face that person? More often than not, that person doesn’t have a changed view of you, but you still avoid them and feel awkward. Things never were the same with that person after that, were they? Well, the same can happen in reverse. Coworkers embarrassing themselves or sharing too deep a secret with you can damage your relationship with them, without you having done anything. Try to prevent it from happening, but don’t make a big deal about it. A colleague wants to go streaking? Responding with a good natured: “Haha, you might regret that one, lets get you some water and then revisit that idea 😉 ”  Your cube mate tries to start dancing on the bar? “Bummer, I thought I saw someone from HR walk in the bar recently, better not 🙂 you know how uptight HR can be!” Someone wants to tell you about how she got two abortions and gave one kid up for adoption? Or how her friend was raped? (Yes someone actually tried to tell me about that) Gently interrupt with a “Wow, this is pretty heavy stuff for a night out! Let’s go (play darts)/(find a song for the jukebox)/(see what Charles in accounting is up to)/(google photos of Kate Middleton and analyze her outfits)” you get the idea. And then never mention it happened. Act like its no big deal. If something still gets REALLY out of hand, despite your best efforts, it is sometimes okay to pretend like you don’t remember much of that night to that person (but only that person, no need to let the whole office think that!!!) the next day. It will help your relationship immensely when they think you don’t even remember them telling you about how they they cross dress. Besides, they’re too busy thinking about their slip to even judge you for “allegedly” drinking so much you don’t remember.

Bottom line, these people are your coworkers, NOT your friends. the lines can sometimes get blurred, especially after a few drinks, but you still want to keep it professional. Follow these guidelines and drinking with coworkers can be a fun, bonding experience, and will minimize any career destruction!

Cheers!

happy hour 1

ALWAYS behave like a lady when drinking with coworkers!

keep it classy

If necessary, repeat this mantra to yourself after a drink!

happy hour 2

Stick to classy looking drinks, NO shots!!!

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