The effects of alcohol might loosen up your inhibitions and make it easier to network, but getting drunk at a work function isn’t just sloppy, it’s unprofessional. Remember that it’s the social ritual of drinking together – not the alcohol itself – that’s the true equalizer. From holiday parties to meetings over drinks, it’s a change of pace to drink with colleagues and clients, and it helps break barriers between bosses and their employees.
However, you can only have so many cocktails before drinking becomes a hindrance instead of a help. Luckily, you can participate without losing your cool. Just know your limits, plan ahead, and take the following advice.
Stick to beer or wine
If there’s an open bar, you might be tempted to take advantage of it by ordering strong cocktails. But if you want to hit the bar multiple times without embarrassing yourself or leaving early, beer is a much better choice. It has an average of 6 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), but IPAs and other specialty varieties are more comparable to a glass of merlot (about 12 percent). Liqueurs fall on the lighter end with up to 25 percent alcohol, while most vodka, gin and rum has about 40 percent, and whisky has about 60 percent.
Beer might have the least amount of alcohol, but it can make you feel full very quickly. Even the lightest varieties are a little shy of 100 calories each, and most are about 150. An ounce of vodka or scotch is about 75 calories, but you can quadruple that if you mix yours with sugary sodas and juices.
Wine is a happy medium for people who try to eat and drink in moderation. Both reds and whites are about 100 calories each, and if you order a red, you can nurse one glass for hours without worrying about it getting warm like white wine (or flat like beer, or watered down like cocktails).
Eat lunch and drink water
If you know there will be drinks at an upcoming event, make it a priority to eat well beforehand. An empty stomach can speed up and intensify the effects of alcohol, which in turn dehydrates you. Don’t let that happen. For every glass of wine, bottle of beer, or mixed drink that you consume, you should also drink at least eight ounces of water. Keep alternating throughout the event.
Check your intake
Cops use breathalyzers and coordination tests to measure the effects of substance use on drivers. Do the same thing to prevent yourself from getting sick or inappropriate. Invest in a handheld device that gives a percentage reading, or perform a DIY assessment. It could be something as simple as walking a straight line in the restroom, or solving a math equation on your phone. Just find something that requires restraint and coordination.
Learn how to fake it
No one will stop to notice that your glass only has soda in it, especially if it’s garnished with a lime or lemon slice. However, they will notice if you’re stiffer and quieter than everyone else in the group. Even after you decide to stop drinking, try to keep your defences down and imagine you’re still slightly buzzed. Everyone else is more casual and less intimidating than usual, whether you’re still drinking or not.
These tips can help you stay professional without skipping the party, but they can’t make you sober enough to drive home. If you plan to drink at a work event, make sure you have a ride home. No networking opportunity is more important than your life.
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