Business Drinking: Tips for Behaving and Imbibing

December 4th, 2016

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.

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