Business Drinking: Tips for Behaving and Imbibing, Conclusion


It was a great party! That’s the primary thing you want to remember and share after a business event. Whether the annual office Christmas party, the company summer BBQ at the lake, or a corporate-sponsored bash at a conference, all are occasions for drinking, dining and indulging in food and beverage overload. There’s your initial cue for caution — indulging. That’s exactly what you should not be doing at any business-related event — over indulging. Whenever in a professional setting, make a conscious effort to avoid slamming down too many drinks and consuming too much overly rich food because it can result in two negative things: making you physically feel bad and, even worse, making you look bad in front of your professional friends and your boss.

What to do? Enter my five tips I’ve been sharing for drinking yet still displaying best behavior in a business social setting. In my two previous blog installments I provided detail on the first three tips which included: Decrypting the drinking code, Drinking or not, Drinking in degrees and related bad deeds. You’ll want to take another look at the details in the posts immediately preceding this one for super ways to stay ahead of pitfalls which may prevail at corporate parties. Let’s wrap things up with the final two tips now.drinking-bottle-of-brandy

Drinking dilemmas
Even though drinking is deeply ingrained into business socializing it doesn’t mean you have to put up with uncomfortable consumption scenarios. If a manager or associate has liquor issues, this can easily spill into imbibing or intoxication at the office — a huge no-no. What should you do? Avoid the person involved if you can. If it’s your supervisor you have a greater issue. Inappropriate conduct from anyone should be reported to human resources or other reliable workplace authority. Anxieties over negative repercussions for reporting an infraction may put you in a tough spot from all angles. Ask trusted colleagues for input and you’ll likely learn you’re not the first recipient of bad behavior from the involved boss or co-worker. You’ll need to decide the best action to take which may include finding another position as a final option. If you’re the person with the drinking problem, look into your company’s EAP or Employee Assistance Program for help.
drinking-group-toast
Delivering a toast
Part of your competence for business-related drinking should include being prepared to share remarks when called upon, particularly when you’re the host or ranking executive in the room. I’m talking about making a toast. You may be thinking … bah, humbug, what’s the big deal about making a toast? Hold onto your beer-induced babble because it is a big deal. Here’s why. A well-structured and eloquently delivered toast can set the tone for an extremely successful event as well as punctuate appreciation for those attending. In fact, the speaking club, Toastmasters International, has a set of tips and techniques focused on creating and sharing the perfect toast. Yeah, they do. Make a point to put quality time into preparing a high caliber toast which complements the gratitude you have for your high value guests.

Sharing food and drink as part of celebration and collaboration have been part of the essence and energy of creating corporate connections since the beginning of business itself. Like the sizzle with a steak, the alcohol aspect of partying plays a special role in how well a gathering is experienced. Use the above tips to responsibly make the most of your industry’s drinking culture and help you avoid the pitfalls of over indulging with liquor and your expense account. Don’t be like a kid in a candy store when it comes to the open bar at the office-sponsored party. Instead, be the judicious participant who is knowingly munching on morsels and consuming cocktails at a well-paced rate which is best for you. Since the biggest line at most conferences is at the bar, enjoy your next event and escape the lengthy queue for drinks by picking up a plate before you partake in a beverage. You’ll have a great time and the bar will still be there after the long line is gone. *

*excerpted in part and reprinted from Mary Elston management column with permission from Soundings Publications, LLC.

Business Drinking: Tips for Behaving and Imbibing, Part 2


Wine, beer or spirits? Many agree that a party isn’t really a party until you open the bar and invite everyone to have a drink. This is particularly true during the holiday season where virtually every office party – most conducted off site at a local restaurant — includes drinking options. Similar to not having a clue as to what to give the name you drew for Secret Santa, this is where things get interesting if not downright confusing when it comes to what’s appropriate. Enter my five tips for drinking in a business environment. drinking-holiday-partyThe first tip I provided in my last installment helps take the initial mystery out of how to handle imbibing with professional colleagues. Here it is again: Decrypt the Drinking Code by asking what drinking policies, whether formal or informal, your company has in place. Read the details in my post immediately preceding this one. Today we’ll cover two more tips. Let’s get going.

Drinking or Not
We all have a drinking preference – religion-based or otherwise. Relationships, personal and professional, can be built or blown on how well imbibing preferences mesh or meltdown. Whether at a conference or joining your group for a beverage after work, business cultures can make drinking together a crucial part of fitting in. Peer pressure may also push you to the bar. What to do? Even if you don’t drink, you need to join in with a non-alcoholic option (try club soda and lime), particularly when traveling for work, or periodically when going out as a team. Don’t want to bother? Think again. Non-joiners can convey a vibe of being stand offish or not interested in building camaraderie. Go out with the gang, order a beverage of some sort – alcoholic or not — and get with the program. Keep your tea toting preference on the down low if you like. Avoid being fussy yet still have fun with the rest of the group – you’ll develop broader friendships and better collaboration as a result. When it comes to these benefits, yes, you’ll have a double.drinking-wine-barrell-2

Drinking in Degrees and Related Bad Deeds
Trouble begins brewing when blending business with drinking to excess, which begs the question:
How much should you drink? You’ll drink only what you can professionally handle, right? For many, this is easy to say but tough to do. Once you get started and drink too much it can be like opening a spigot on a big barrel of wine but, in this case, far too much begins flowing from your mouth. You’re sharing extensive information at an elevated volume. Don’t get me started on the ridiculous things I’ve heard colleagues say when they’re inebriated. The obvious nasty side effect from overindulging (we won’t go into the hangover) is it makes you look bad. Once your buzz is in full bloom you’re no longer sharp and on top of your game. Never drink and drive either. Do yourself a favor and drink only half of what you think you can handle and let another poor slob make a fool of him or herself, not you.

Now that I’ve shared additional insights as to deciding to have a drink or not, and the importance of making sure you don’t drink to excess, what issues surrounding business drinking have left you perplexed in the past? Have you ever overly indulged in adult beverages at a professional function and regretted it? Send your comments and share how drinking in a business setting has provided you with challenges, if any, and how you overcame pressure to fit in that included filling your glass. I’ll have the final two tips for you on this topic in a couple of weeks, talk to you then. *

*excerpted in part and reprinted from Mary Elston management column with permission from Soundings Publications, LLC.

Business Drinking: Tips for Behaving and Imbibing


If there’s a long line anywhere most of us avoid it. Yes, I am readily raising my hand as an accomplished, long line avoider. But there are a few places where long lines are the norm and everyone seems fine with it. Starbuck’s or McDonald’s drive up windows? Not quite. I’m talking about the lengthy wait at every business conference I’ve attended in the last several months – from Denver to Denmark – and cities in between. The large queue I’m referencing always forms during the conference opening reception –you guessed it – it’s the line at the bar. There’s a choice to start with food or drink but beverage lines consistently become longer, faster than any other backlog at these events. drinking-conference-crowd

Given the above, the business of drinking while doing business flourishes around the globe. With good reason. Major deals are conceived, composed and closed while swirling an olive in a perfectly chilled martini or biting into a spinach puff pastry appetizer. Liquor invites an atmosphere which dials down stress and turns up fellowship. As part of business socializing, consuming alcohol is much like working the right balance of barley, malt and hops in a well-crafted beer – when beautifully blended it can yield remarkable results.

With this in mind, let’s look at the first of five fundamental drinking tips for those who are tipping a glass in a business setting.

1) Decrypt the drinking code

Acceptable standards for business drinking in different industries and diverse nations must be understood before you bump up the bar tab. The easiest code cracking method? Ask, don’t assume. Many companies have and enforce entertainment policies which you will want to review. Where and when do they consider alcohol appropriate? Almost never in the office except for special celebrations, company sponsored beer bashes or what’s defined by management. Other organizations may follow the boss’s lead. Whichever the case and prior to a gathering, you’ll need to understand what’s expected and imposed when it comes to your organization’s drinking culture. Find out from your teammates or manager. Cocktails to kick off the evening along with wine served with the meal may flow at different rates of consumption and expense depending on company and country cultures.

Ever run into a drinking dilemma during a business event? I would love to hear your stories and how you handled tough situations. We’ll take a look at more tips for properly and professionally conducting business while indulging in spirited beverages in my next installment. See you then. *

*excerpted in part and reprinted from Mary Elston management column with permission from Soundings Publications, LLC.