Let’s be honest–summer is the season to drink. During the summer months all across America, people find flimsy excuses to imbibe–I’m looking at you, National Tequila Day–and to do so outdoors whenever possible. This means that you and your coworkers may be itching to ditch the office in search of the best nearby happy hour.
People stress a lot about etiquette at their respective company holiday parties–those winter fêtes are booby-trapped for boozy embarrassment. But somehow the heat of summer makes it easy to forget that the same rules apply, and unlike the office Christmas party, a random happy hour doesn’t mean everyone will get equally hammered. So before you sign out of your work computer, keep in mind these few simple guidelines.
Even if you’re just organizing a casual post-work drink with some of your teammates, everyone knows who sent the original email, and everyone knows what it said. So watch your wording, and don’t frame your plan as “let’s get drunk and escape the office.” Not only is it wildly unprofessional, you never really know who might see it, including your boss. Your personal drinking habits should stay separate from the office. Instead, if you are the happy hour organizer, suggest that “it would be nice to spend some time together outside the office.” While both options have the same result, the second invite is more professional and won’t get you into trouble. Plus, if your supervisor scores a last-minute invite elsewhere, you’re in the clear.
Once you get to the bar, you need to remember that you are still with your colleagues, the same people you spend roughly eight hours a day with. Save your shot-ripping and beer-chugging for your own time. Instead, order something that you feel comfortable sipping. If your boss is there, it may help to follow his or her lead on whether or not to order hard alcohol. This doesn’t mean order whatever your boss is drinking; the first time I went for drinks with my coworkers, I ordered a whiskey to fit in with the group. However, as whiskey’s greatest detractor, I had to awkwardly hold the full glass all night, grimacing through fake sips. When in doubt, order a glass of wine or a beer.
Most importantly, limit your intake. Nobody will ever forget who the D.G.A.P. was. If you get wasted and start running your mouth about your coworkers or your personal life, your more sober drinking partner will always remember. While it may seem like a great idea to bring the entire sales team bar-hopping and to karaoke, it probably won’t end well (and you’ll probably dread showing your face in the office the day after).
If you really love hanging out with your coworkers (which is awesome!), organize a gathering on your personal email. And always remember the personal-professional life distinction. At the very least, save the risky in-office debauchery for December.