Socializing with co-workers gets a bad rap. For every story lauding the benefits of networking with your colleagues, you’ll find three that tell you that even being in the same room with co-workers and alcohol can tank your career. So how do you get the best out of those after-work happy hours, without dealing the worst?
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“Consistently saying ‘no’ to outside activities can lead others to see you as not being a team player, especially if multiple others from your team are getting together,” writes Drew Hendricks at Forbes. “Your boss may view your refusal to participate as an indication you aren’t interested in getting to know your co-workers, leading to career suicide.”
The key to managing the situation is to plan ahead. Hendricks recommends taking the following into account:
1. Choose your companions wisely.
Some co-workers are better social companions than others. It’s OK to skip the night out with the folks who never go home, and show up the next morning smelling like a bar and looking like they’ve been run over by a truck. Make sure you have a buddy — not a drinking buddy, but a going-home-at-a-reasonable-hour buddy.
2. Make a plan.
Know when you’re going to leave before you go. This is a good opportunity to practice those project management skills. Odds are, you won’t be able to make your escape exactly on time, but if you pick a departure point, you’ll be more likely to make it home at a reasonable hour.
3. Know the difference between a work event and a social event.
Now is not the time to show everyone that your keg-stand talents haven’t degraded since your fraternity days. Keep it down to a dull roar, and save any real partying for occasions where you won’t see any of your co-workers.
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