How to drink with colleagues and retain your professionalism

In the past, having a drink with employees was not a big deal and commonplace in almost every workplace. However, in today’s workplace going for a drink with co-workers, your boss or those you manage is seen almost as taboo with most erring on the side of caution.

Having a drink or socialising with colleagues should not be viewed in this way and if done in the right manner can be beneficial to all firms, companies and business. By following a basic mantra of; ‘don’t drink too much and be respectful’ and by following these simple guidelines anyone can master the art of after work drinks and social events:

1. Be more social

In the office environment there will be the opportunity for socialising with colleagues after work, try not to exclude yourself from these events, even if you are feeling burned out. If you pass on a number of these outings there is a chance you will stop being asked and the chance to form personal relationships with colleagues will pass with the potential to leave you feeling like an outsider.

2. Resist the urge to gossip

Having a drink together with colleagues can create a false sense of security and after a few drinks you may feel that this is the perfect opportunity to tell your colleagues what you really think of your boss or partake in office gossip about how useless so and so can be. At the time the conversation feels intimate and exciting but by the next morning when you try to recall what you said about whom you will no doubt regret it. Whilst you may have bonded with your colleague in the moment there is the risk that they will share the information the next morning and you will develop a reputation as an office gossip.

3. Don’t talk about work all night

It is completely unrealistic to think that you would have a drink with colleagues and not talk about work whatsoever, your job is the one thing you all have in common. Try to use work as a conduit to other topics of conversation and find out more about your colleagues, their hobbies, interests and other things you may not know.

4. Set a time to leave

As a general rule for work events you do not want to be the first or the last to leave, take off too early and you’re a party pooper; stay too long and you’re a party animal. It is best to excuse yourself somewhere in the middle to maintain a happy medium.

One way to make sure you don’t overstay your welcome is to make other plans for later that evening so if your drinks start at 6pm set your other plans for 8pm this way you can have a drink with colleagues, socialise and then excuse yourself. This is very helpful if you are new or not too familiar with your co-workers or do not drink. Having alternative plans or an exit plan can give you the perfect opportunity to engage with colleagues but not overstay or be hanging around for the sake of it.

5. Suggest alcohol free outings

‘Drinks after work’ is an easy work social event and can be arranged quickly and spontaneously. But what about those who do not drink and the risk of alienating them from their colleagues. Plan some team bonding away from a bar; try ten pin bowling, pool, table tennis or a team sport that can provide a fun and relaxed setting for colleagues to get to know each other and let off some steam.

There are also fewer rules to think about at alcohol free events; just show up, have fun and don’t be over competitive.

By following the simple guidance above, work drinks and events need not be something to be feared and avoided but encouraged and can be valuable to developing better relationships amongst colleagues.

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