I spend several evenings each week dining with others, sometimes it’s with clients and other times it’s with the higher-ups. No matter the dining partner, at some point adult beverages will show up.
During the last few decades, I’ve seen a lot of damage caused by alcohol. From a good friend dying due to a DUI to another being fired because he didn’t know when enough was enough. If allowed; alcohol can be an ugly partner.
When drinking in the corporate world, here are a couple of thoughts: First, if drinking’s not your thing don’t cave to the pressure. I once worked with a person that wouldn’t come to the company picnic because alcohol was going to be served, a solid move standing up for his beliefs. Fast-forward 5 years, he gets a promotion and at the quarterly dinner I see him with a snifter of brandy, apparently his beliefs weren’t that deeply rooted. Second, if someone in your dining party doesn’t drink don’t bust their chops.
So, when drinking with the higher-ups what’s the best way to go about it?
- If it’s after work don’t show up in cut-offs and a wife beater, unless you work at the cut-offs and wife beater factory.
- Exercise control, more than likely they’ll be picking up the tab; this is not the time to look at an open bar as a challenge.
- You have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionally. Don’t gossip or try to pry information out of your boss.
- If you drink, order a drink, not some novelty drink in order to get a laugh. Ordering a Sex on the Beach or a Slow Comfortable Screw might make the server chuckle (not really), but it’ll signify to your boss that you’re a total Ass-Hat.
- Don’t ramp up your alcohol content. If you start the night drinking beer, continue that path. If the crowd switches to shots of Fireball at 10:00 PM resist the urge. Upgrading or bouncing around with the alcohol content is a sure way to become a babbling idiot, right before you black-out.
- Don’t try to keep up. If you’re not used to drinking hours on end, this is not the time to start.
- Avoid talking about work unless your boss brings it up first. If peers and alcohol are present, stay away from talking about money.
- If your boss orders a Mud Slide and that’s not one of your go-to drinks, don’t follow suit, you’ll look like a brown-noser.
- Keep your belly full, even if it’s an appetizer.
- Have some cash. Just in case everyone bails and leaves you with the tab, you’ll have a way to cover it. You can sort it out in the morning after everyone realizes you saved the night.
- Order a craft beer, It’s hard to get in trouble with beer; unless you drink 12 of them with a 9% ABV.
- Bourbon & Ginger ale, a classic and no need for a top shelf bourbon.
- Normally the house red wine won’t let you down and won’t throw up a red flag on the expense report.
- Channel your inner Don Draper and order an Old Fashioned.
- If you can take it, order a scotch neat.
As with most things in life, it comes down to being accountable and being smart, that’s it.
PSA time – If you feel that alcohol is becoming or has become that ugly partner do yourself and your family a favor and get help. From meetings at Alcoholic Anonymous to websites like One Year No Beer there’s help out there, but you have to take the first step.
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