The concept of a happy hour is fairly simple and normal. After hours of meetings, stressful reports, heavy workloads, and sitting under the artificial light, Happy Hour seems like the only cure. There’s nothing better than venting with coworkers who understand the stress and busy day you all put behind you. Not to mention, many spots offer happy hour specials that offer solace not only to your mind but also to your wallet. However, how much should you vent?
If you’re in your first official “grown up job” fresh out of college or fail to practice appropriate Happy Hour manners, Happy Hours can be dangerous to your career and reputation. Remember the Golden “Don’t” Rules, and you’ll maintain the high road.
1. Keep it Classy. DON'T Be over the top to impress.
Happy Hours aren't there to just talk about work. Make sure to open up to your team and network. You never know who knows each other, and by adding a face to your name, you can open potential doors or paths for careers down the road. You can find common interests and bond over them. However, there is such a thing as too much info. During an awkward pause, it's only human nature to want to fill it with a conversation. Don't try to impress with getting too personal or sharing false stories. If giving your team a play-by-play of Saturday’s one nightstand may not be the best idea. Even if they’re laughing you might feel awkward or less respected during the next business meeting. It’s best to keep it light and keep it simple.You may be out of the office, but try to think if the conversation you’re about to bring up is HR appropriate. Just keep it classy.
2. DON'T Ignore Your Work Responsibilities. Work first, then play!
Going to a corporate approved Happy Hour is not an excuse for not getting your work done. That's almost as bad as the "dog ate my homework" excuse! You get paid for a reason and your responsibilities have to come first. How bad will you look at the next day's presentation and you don't have your sh*t together? When it comes time for that raise, will you be the one that's known for their lax attitude or the one that can handle whatever is brought to the table? Remember your priorities first. There will always be other networking opportunities. You’ll be happy tomorrow when your coworkers are hung-over and your work is done.
3. DON'T become offensive. Know your boundaries.
When you’re a few beverages in, your embarrassing sexcapade stories seem hilarious, but who knows who’s listening in? Make sure to keep work boundaries. Absolutely loosen up a bit and show off your personality, but know where those boundaries lie, so you don’t offend or upset anyone. Jokes that may seem tame with your friends, might NOT be a hit to coworkers. You’ve worked hard for your reputation, and can lose it easily.
4. Know when to cut off the beverages. DON'T go over your limit.
Just because the drink special ends at 7:00 doesn’t mean you should get your money’s worth. Better to have one drink and maintain your sharpness. Know your drinking limits and try to drink water in between every alcoholic beverage to avoid a hangover the next day and making bad decisions. Under no circumstances are shots ever a good idea with coworkers. Also, make sure to not get behind the wheel after a happy hour. You could risk your reputation, get into an accident, get a DUI, or worse.
5. DON'T be glued to your phone.
Who wants to talk to anyone who is too busy to talk to them because they're checking their emails? Yes, it's hard to take a break from social media, but a few hours wouldn't kill you. Additionally, when you’re not attending happy hour, you should never post on social media intoxicated. Our digital age when Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are a send tap away, and you never know where the memories of the night will end up.
In any situation, be sure to use your best judgment. Everyone makes mistakes and if you mess up, it’s okay. However, own up to them and try not to make them again. If you treat everyone with respect and follow the golden “don’t” rules, you’ll be a happy hour success!