Happy hour is a time for young professionals to unwind after a long hard day at work. Engaging with coworkers in a relaxed setting can be a fun and rewarding experience but it can also torpedo your career if you aren’t careful. A little planning and a few rules can go a long way towards keeping things in check and making sure you don’t relax too much. Cocktails with colleagues is still technically a work event, even if you aren’t on the clock. You want to share your social side in a responsible manner that doesn’t require any type of explanation the following day.
Set Goals & Personal Boundaries Beforehand
Enjoying happy hour with coworkers can be a great way to forge new connections with colleagues other than your immediate team members. Look at it as a valuable networking opportunity. You can get yourself noticed by superiors and build relationships that can benefit your career. Communicating with coworkers at the office is much easier if you already have an established relationship based on experiences like these.
Only you know your tolerance for alcohol, so set limits and stick to them. Don’t order your favorite drink because it will go down quickly. Instead, order a cocktail you like and nurse it for a little bit. Hors d’oeuvres are often half-price during happy hour and snacking on a little protein can help keep you from getting tipsy. If you just can’t bring yourself to eat, then sip water between drinks.
Gossip & Shop Talk
Avoid the urge to gossip while you’re there. Happy hour with coworkers is not the best time to share your socially lubricated opinion about your boss or the colleague in the next cubicle. While it may seem right in the moment, it’s never good the next day. Keep the conversation casual. You don’t want to talk shop all night, but work-related topics can be an ideal gateway to more interesting conversations. Just be careful not to share too much personal information. Your colleagues don’t need to hear about last week’s dating disaster. After all, your professional reputation is at stake. Enjoying the relaxed atmosphere with coworkers is much more fun if you think before you speak.
Plan Your Exit
Everything doesn’t need to be set in stone, but you do want to have an exit plan. It can be hard to stick to a drink limit without an exit plan. If you are drinking alcohol, make sure you have a ride home. Don’t be afraid to call an Uber or split a cab with a coworker. You won’t mind picking up your vehicle the next day when there’s no bad behavior to explain and your colleagues will respect you for your decision. At Bender’s Sports and Spirits, we want you to enjoy happy hour with your colleagues, but we want you to get home safely so you can visit again soon!