Think you're already a pro at drinking? Your beer chug is down to 8 seconds and you're throwing 80% at beer pong? Wrong kind of pro, buddy. We're talking about drinking like a professional, and that means, among other rules, you don't chug beers or throw ping pong balls with your boss.
By Justin Thompson
Recently we had a sales meeting with a large majority of our field staff come into town to discuss business. As is usually customary for these types of meetings, large dinners are had for everyone to get together and discuss things “offline,” as it were, or to converse personally and catch up with each other on a more social level than business.
However, when I got to the restaurant and learned that we had an open bar, I was faced with a dilemma. Take advantage of the open bar or refrain accordingly? And what do you get to drink so that others don't look at you like you go home to a wet bar every night or that you are so uppity that you don't partake of any alcoholic beverage? While most would opt for beer, as we were at a restaurant that had their own brewery, I am not a fan of beer and instead of having wine, I chose to have a really dirty martini.
As the night progressed and the drinks flowed easily, I got to a point where I realized I was fairly buzzed and almost on the verge of drunk. So I reeled it in. Having a lot of water immediately and finding something to munch on. And while others kept drinking, I got to see how reckless this could be. Once the lights came up in the restaurants, I realized I was only one of about ten people who were left and then the suggestion came to find another bar. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound, right? So we went. But I didn't have any more drinks. I chose instead to stay with the group and continue drinking water, allowing myself to be social but also to sober up. Also the eight-block walk to my car in 20-degree weather was a great help in shaking off the effects of my alcohol consumption.
I think the rule of thumb is to have no more than three beers or two hard liquor drinks. It's enough to loosen up or relax and not seem prudish, but also shows that you are cognizant of the situation and aware that you'll probably have to get up and be back to work at 8 a.m. the next morning, which I did.
Maybe the only thing worse than making a drunken fool of yourself with your coworkers 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'll be costing your company and clients a lot of money.
Another important thing to remember is that as you get older, your recovery time increases dramatically. Things I could do at 22 I cannot do at 25. Like shots. Especially doing lots of different shots or doing numerous amounts of shots. They just are bad news. And I think those moments should be reserved for the company of people who know you explicitly, not coworkers. Shots to me are always a turning point in the evening between relaxed fun and brazen debauchery and dashes to a bathroom. So you really should never do shots with coworkers in any work situation ever. EVER. It also says more about you than you probably want it to.
To build off of that last point, once you make your drink decision for the night, you probably should stick with it. I'm notorious for having a martini, then a beer, then a vodka tonic, etc. My proclivity for a lot of different flavors and tastes always steers me in a wrong direction when it comes to drinking. However, in the situation above, I stuck to my dirty martini's all night and while I felt it, the next day I woke up clear headed. That does not happen when I'm bouncing all over the board from vodka to gin to whiskey to rum to beer to wine. My horrible next day experiences are directly from a result of not sticking to one drink for the entire night and just making that commitment to myself.
Another good rule to employ when out with coworkers or clients is to say to yourself, “I'll have one less.” It's not a new theory or thought and I think I heard it from some comedian, but it makes sense. Instead of the usual, “Let's have one more,” just say to yourself “I'm going to have one less.” It's a good rule of thumb.
Also, be aware of the setting: after work drinks with coworkers is one thing; having drinks during lunch is quite another. I've thought to myself occasionally that a glass of wine at lunch will be a nice treat, but always regretted it two hours later when I was tired and lost all will to work. So drinks at lunch – whether with coworkers or clients is a negative.
Drinking With Your Business
That brings me to my next subject: drinking with clients. I'm a firm believer that in any situation where 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. Realize that this scenario is a heightened circumstance where they'll be viewing you as a representative for your company. Also, think about a client who you take out to lunch or dinner that gets insanely blitzed and what that may say about them as far as priorities and such.
It's one thing to celebrate great work together in the appropriate setting, quite another to have regular liquid lunches with potential or existing clients.
Also guys – be aware that you NEVER should drink and hit on coworkers or clients. Sure it sounds obvious, but then why does it happen ALL the time? That's bad news right there and could be potentially fatal to you and your career. So avoid setting yourself up by having too many drinks.
Standard Rules Apply
Having said all that, each person needs to just know their own limits and define their own rules. I can't make any blanket statement about what you should or shouldn't do as each circumstance is truly unique and is so dependent upon what others are doing. Your best bet if you are never certain, is just to not drink. Because if you're nervous, you may begin to drink and then have a false sense of drunken confidence that turns into a brazen, vulgar rampage.
So be smart, drink responsibly, and remember that while you may like your co-workers, they aren't your friends from college and are less reliable to carry your drunken self back to the car or call you a cab. Cheers!