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Ah yes, Happy Hour: one of life's most profound conundrums. On the one hand, getting together with people over deeply discounted food and drink seems like the perfect way to bond and have fun; on the other hand: alcohol. Socializing with co-workers is indeed a delicate balance. Luckily for all you weeknight booze-hounds, we're here to offer some etiquette tips to help keep you on the happy side of Happy Hour.
Walk Softly But Carry Some Business Cards
In their zeal to excel at a new workplace, Happy Hour rookies forget that, while you may be out with co-workers, business hours are decidedly over. Everyone around you is there to relax and unwind between leaving work and heading home, so keep shop-talk and networking to a minimum. Then again, it's also good to be able to take advantage of potential face-time with people you might not get to talk to under normal workday circumstances. If you're genuinely, professionally interested in someone, go for it, but remember, this is their after-hours time too.
This Is Not a Dating Service
While the jury is still out on workplace dating, Happy Hour is absolutely, positively not the time to start hitting on co-workers. Your half-price Cuba Libre may advise you otherwise, but trust us on this. Just as alcohol and a relaxed social setting can serve to bolster your confidence, they can also blind you to the jackass you're making of yourself.
But what happens when you're the one being chatted-up? Danger, Will Robinson. While your normal club- or bar-going persona might shut a would-be wooer down with witty repartee or an icy-cold shoulder, remember that you will have to face this person again first thing Monday morning. Poise and class can go a long way in diffusing the potential disaster.
Keeping Tabs
Every workplace is different when it comes to splitting the bill. Sometimes managers and other superiors are willing to pick up part of the tab on a company account. More often, everyone goes Dutch, and this is where problems can occur. It is extremely important to pay your fair share and and that includes a tip, for the love of Maud.
If you can afford to do so, it's always a nice gesture to buy a round for the team. But don't be pushy! Some people don't drink, others can't for medical or cultural reasons, and still others may simply not feel comfortable mixing business and pleasure to quite that degree. If someone offers to buy you a drink, be gracious whatever your answer, and remember the favour. If you're not sure what the rules are for your group, just ask.
You're Not as Think as You Sober You Are
The whole point of going out with your work buddies is to build deeper and more comfortable relationships with the people around whom you spend 40 or more hours every week. Getting comfortable, however, does not mean getting sloppy drunk, taking off your shirt, and singing your best karaoke Journey cover. Stop one drink before you think you should. Cushion your booze intake with one of those discounted appetizers or maybe someone wants to split one with you. For the sake of your co-workers and your professional future, don't make your Happy Hour too happy. And please, don't drink and drive. That's an even worse idea than throwing up in front of or on your boss.
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