Q&A: Should I Join My Colleagues for After-Work Drinks?

Question:
I’ve been working in this company for nearly half a year, and recently a group of colleagues from another department invited me to join them for dinner and drinks after work. Since I don’t interact much with them at work, this would be a good chance for me to get to know them better but I’m worried if they have any ulterior motives. Should I accept?

Answer:
Having a drink with your colleagues is a great way to blow off steam, especially after a hard day of work. The informal setting of the pub or bar, not to mention the alcohol, can do wonders in breaking down interpersonal barriers and making the atmosphere a relaxed and friendly one.

Since you’re still relatively new to the company and your colleagues have already taken the initiative by inviting you, why not join them if you don’t have any plans for the evening?

Good Networking Opportunity
It’s always good to familiarise yourself with your co-workers, even if you rarely bump into them. You never know when you might need their personal or professional aid in the future, so take the chance to establish a good rapport with them.

Chatting with them can help grant some insight into the company’s work culture and habits. Who knows, you may even pick up some useful advice and opportunities along the way!

But keep in mind that no matter how informal the setting seems, you’re still in the company of people who are essentially still acquaintances. Getting wasted when you’re out with them is definitely not acceptable behaviour, and exercising self-control is crucial lest you tarnish your professional image amongst your colleagues.

Know Your Limits
You’re there to let your hair down, but that doesn’t mean you should be gulping down shots Coyote Ugly-style. Set a limit and stick to it. Getting something to eat before you drink and nursing a single drink slowly as you chat with your colleagues can also help prevent you from getting too drunk.

Remember, your main priority there is to socialise, not drown your sorrows. Once in a while, try getting up and walking around. If you can’t walk steadily, it’s a sign that you’re fast approaching the edge of your sobriety and you’ve got to ease off.

Don’t Shoot Your Mouth Off
The more alcohol you imbibe, the looser your tongue becomes, so be mindful of what you say. Ignore the temptation to complain incessantly about your job, and try to keep the conversation topic safe – better to be boring than to be a boor. Remember, any nonsense you spout may eventually get to your boss’s ears via the office grapevine and compromise your position.

Instead, take the chance to truly get to know colleagues you’d rarely socialise with otherwise – you may find a kindred spirit or even a romantic spark or two, but that’s another story altogether.

All in all, there is nothing wrong with hanging out with colleagues for a drink after office hours, but always remember that you are being scrutinised, so keep your wits about you even as you’re having a good time!

Would you go drinking with your colleagues after work? Share with us in the comment box below!

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