Mary Poppins said, ‘In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.’
I often experience vivid and occasionally traumatic flashbacks of these ‘elements of fun’ from past work nights out.
(Disclaimer: please can my current and past work colleagues NOT share any of these ‘elements‘).
Having matured, and with the advent of smartphones that capture and share every instance of inebriated antics, I’ve managed to rein in my behaviour. I’ve embraced adulthood and can now partake in a night out without my inner ‘dirty grandad’ wreaking havoc amongst the Accounts Department.
Since Covid-19, we’ve all been tempted to decline well-intentioned invitations or bail out at the last minute with feeble excuses. It really was a circuit-breaker when it came to after-work pints.
So, what exactly is the etiquette when it comes to these situations?
As the familiar ‘email’ pops up in your inbox, announcing the latest plan for yet another office night out, the mounting pressure to participate becomes palpable.
Although it’s not necessary to attend every night out, consider saying yes to the occasional invitation and step out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to partake in a few gatherings, making a personal commitment to approach them with determination and the intent to find even a sliver of enjoyment.
You may actually have fun!
Talk to people
Once you’ve summoned the inner resolve to grace the gathering with your presence, you are now faced with the task of engaging in conversation with your fellow colleagues. As you delicately cradle your third glass of wine and nibble on peanuts, channel your energy into making genuine connections and showing interest in the lives and experiences of those around you.
Engage in conversation, listen attentively to anecdotes and share a laugh or two. Take the opportunity to discover common ground or hidden passions that may surprise you.
You can develop a real sense of connection and build relationships beyond the confines of job titles and daily tasks. This strengthens the bonds amongst team members, aids collaboration, and creates a positive and closer working atmosphere.
This is my best tip for work-related social gatherings – the art of gracefully leaving early. It may require a bit of strategic planning but the benefits (and relief) it offers are well worth the effort.
Before the evening reaches its peak, make your exit on a high note. By departing at the right moment, you not only demonstrate a sense of self-awareness but also leave your colleagues with a positive impression.
Leaving early allows you to maintain a sense of control over your own evening and prevents the potential overindulgence that often accompanies late-night socialising, sparing you from the regret and discomfort that can follow. The deadly combination of a hangover and the looming anxiety of recalling your sinful behaviour is a recipe for utter debilitation.
And let’s not forget the benefit of not partaking in the dreaded Monday morning walk of shame. By leaving early, you ensure that you wake up free from the physical and emotional aftermath that late-night revelry can bring. You can walk into the office with your head held high, knowing that you maintained a sense of balance and responsibility.
We can all do without the flashbacks of crying, arguing or being overly amorous!
Organise your own work night out
Empower yourself by taking the initiative and organise a work night out. Gone are my days of indulging in all-day drinking, as experience has taught me that it rarely ends well. By seizing the reins and being the first to set the plans in motion, you gain the power to shape the narrative.
Opt for a more balanced approach by suggesting a casual after-work gathering at the pub around 7pm. By setting a specific time to start and a reasonable time to leave, like 11pm, you create boundaries that help prevent the slippery slope of all-day or lunchtime drinking. This way, you can enjoy the company of your colleagues without getting caught in a bottomless pit of alcohol-induced debauchery.
Don’t drink too much
And on that note, it is imperative to exercise moderation when it comes to alcohol consumption. Take the time to determine your limits and stick to them.
(Disclaimer: I know I am a hypocrite).
Shedding tears with mascara streaking down your face or engaging in ill-advised behaviour such as berating your boss for the lack of promotion or venting venom about your colleagues is never a good look.
If you’re interested in sharing a drink with me or possibly encountering my ‘dirty grandad’ alter-ego (should he make an appearance), please join me for a drink at ‘Anti-Social’ on the third Thursday of every month. We gather at HQ Urban Kitchen in Swansea. Message me for details.