When you start a full-time job or even an internship, it’s a fairly common (and enjoyable) practice to do Happy Hour with your co-workers.
And frankly, after a busy day filled with meetings, unexpected surprises, and forgetting to wear deodorant, Happy Hour can be like therapy.
However, if you’re fresh out of college or fail to practice appropriate Happy Hour manners, it can be dangerous. You see, this isn’t a “pregame” and just because the drinks are half-priced doesn’t mean you should imbibe as many as you can before 6:59.
With a healthy dose of moderation, mindfulness, and monitoring, your weekly Happy Hour can be the ideal time to bond with your team and blow off some steam, but remember to follow the Golden Rules.
During the rollercoaster workday, time for weekend stories and thorough analysis of last week’s New Girl can be hard to come by. Happy Hour is the perfect time for this. If your team invites you along for 2-for-1 beers or Monday Mojitos, don’t be too quick to rule it out just because it’s a weekday. Come on Grandma, loosen up a little.
2. Open up—a little bit.
Even though you’re out with co-workers, it doesn’t mean that the only thing you can talk about is whether or not you’ll meet Thursday’s deadline. As long as you’re tasteful, it’s okay to talk about your new firm-bodied yoga instructor, painful four-day juice cleanse or the time you accidentally sexted your aunt.
However, giving your team a play-by-play of Saturday’s late night drunken escapades may not be the best idea. Even if they’re laughing now, you might feel awkward when you’re dead sober sitting across from your 58-year-old boss tomorrow morning during the 8:00 a.m. conference call.
3. Make your own plan and stick to it.
Just because everyone from the office is getting tipsy on a Tuesday doesn’t mean you have to participate. When Rihanna is playing in the background, your boss is buying, and you’re at the favorite office dive bar, it’s easy to forget that you still haven’t done your laundry or gone grocery shopping.
The horrible (and sometimes great) thing about drinking is that after two drinks, your promise to yourself to leave at 8:30 seems hilarious. If you’re going to go to Happy Hour, decide exactly when you’re going to head home and how much you’ll drink. Then honor it like a sacred code. You’ll thank yourself when you wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and well-rested.
1. Go to Happy Hour if you still have important work to finish.
Working on an Excel spreadsheet after three beers is less fun than it sounds. If you haven’t finished the urgent deliverables of the day, hold off on Happy Hour. You’ll be happy tomorrow when your work is done and you won’t feel as guilty.
If it’s something you can finish the next morning or it’s a menial task, then go—but check in with yourself and be honest before running out the door.
2. Get hammered (AKA, pace yourself).
Just because the drink special ends at 7:00 doesn’t mean you should chug as many vodka sodas as you can. Better to have one drink and maintain your sharpness than four and accidentally trip on your way out of the bar.
Every time you have a drink, have a water in between. If you feel weird about ordering water, order a tonic and bitters. It will look just like a cocktail but it has no alcohol.
Also, rule of thumb: if your team pressures you to do shots, it’s best to say no. Unless it’s St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, or Cinco de Mayo. Or your birthday.
3. Over-share and cross boundaries.
When you’re four G&Ts in, your stories from last summer seem hilarious, and joining in when everyone is making fun of the goofy intern doesn’t seem like a big deal.
But at work, some boundaries are important, and people talk. Don’t share anything that you wouldn’t want others at your company to know. Don’t shotgun a beer just because it seems funny at the moment. In an age when Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are an iPhone tap away, you never know where the memories of the night will end up.
Use your best judgment and if you mess up, it’s okay. Don’t spend hours overanalyzing or beating yourself up. Move on, but promise yourself that next time you’ll respect the Golden Rules of Happy Hour and plan ahead.
How do you make sure you have a fun and professional Happy Hour? Tell us in the comments!