The Etiquette Of Drinking With Your Boss

At some point in your career, you’re going to get invited out by your boss for happy hour drinks, and regardless of whether or not you like him or her, you’re going to have to go, because let’s be honest, you’d like to receive that raise or promotion that you rightfully deserve. But heading out to the bar with the boss is a delicate dance in etiquette. This isn’t simply drinks with friends, you need to have your game face on and be prepared, because nothing is ever “casual” when you’re out drinking with the person who’s responsible for you receiving your paycheck. These are the rules:

#1 Let Your Boss Pick The Bar

You might hate sports, or craft cocktails, but if that’s where your boss wants to grab a drink, don’t fight it. Letting your boss pick the location also prevents you from any blow-back should your boss not enjoy him or herself at the venue you’ve chosen.

#2 Offer To Pay

You know what will get you brownie points with the boss? Offering to pay. Sure your boss probably isn’t going to accept your offer, but the gesture will most certainly be noted. When you first get to the bar, say you’d like to treat your boss to the first round. When he or she brushes off the gesture and insists on paying, you’ll have made a great impression. And if in fact your boss does allow you to pay, don’t sweat it, you’ll look even better. Now just remember to tip.

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#3 Go Easy On The Booze

If your boss is drinking hard liquor, that’s his or her prerogative. After all, you’re the one hanging out with a superior, not them, and that means you need to try and limit your booze consumption. If your boss insists on both of you drinking a glass of whiskey, sip it slowly and then absolutely do not order another, switch to a glass of wine or a beer instead. Alcohol has a way of making us much more loose with our words, and in these types of situations, it’s best you make sure you don’t say anything you might regret.

#4 Don’t Gossip About Work

After a few drinks, it can be very easy to slip into talking about the office, and that conversation can veer in the direction of gossip when there isn’t much to talk about besides the actual work the two of you do together. But as easy as it seems to just start talking about the coworkers you both don’t like or think are bad at their jobs, avoid it. Even if your boss is engaging with you in this dialogue it is very likely she or he is making a judgement about your character.

#5 Know When To Go Home

It can be hard to head home if your boss is covering the tab, but since this is after work drinks, and not a meal, there are only so many drinks one can consume without eating. You also aren’t trying to become best friends and the longer you stay, the more likely you are to talk about things you will regret when you get back to the office. After having a few drinks, politely excuse yourself and head home. You will be very glad you did.