Happy Hour. For some, an event that offers the only shred of fun that is conceivable with co-workers. For others, a nightmare summoned from the abyss of awkward social encounters and repulsive drink choices. Whether you are the life of the party or would prefer living under a rock, learn how to both survive and benefit from Happy Hours.
Go with the flow on drink choice—If everyone else in your group gets a beer and you are choosing to partake, consider refraining from ordering a “Commonwealth,” and its 71 ingredients or other similarly complicated drinks.
Have a set departure time—even if it is made up, make sure you have an out at a specific time. If you choose to stick around because you are actually having a good time, people will be pleasantly surprised. If you leave abruptly without warning, people will assume you do not enjoy being around your co-workers which is not good for culture.
Do not draw attention to yourself —If you are not drinking for any number of reasons (overall against it, not feeling well, running a marathon the next day, etc.), the main conversation topic should not be why you are not drinking. Get yourself a water or soda (add lime for added affect), and enjoy the camaraderie.
Location, location, location—whether it is a venue where you are sitting or standing, choose where you will be carefully. If you are nervous to attend said happy hour for any number of reasons, sitting between the CEO and the COO may not be the best choice for you.
Hold your drink FIRMLY in your left hand—if you need to shake hands with someone, you will shake with your right hand. You do not want to get caught having to switch hands which is both awkward and brings the dreaded spill scenario into play.
Socialize—Sit with/speak with individuals outside of your normal department or team. These people have complementary skills and personalities compared to you and can offer a different viewpoint of the company, life, etc.
Move around—Whether it is a sitting or standing atmosphere, moving about the group conveys confidence and enthusiasm for getting to know your teammates. If you are sitting in a corner with your two closest friends, you are not impressing anyone. Practice disengaging from conversations eloquently just as much as you practice starting conversations.
Go local—Indianapolis has a great local brewery scene. If you enjoy a cold brew, I would highly recommend ordering one of the many local craft selections. It’s great to support the local economy, and this decision may lead to a destination suggestion for your next company outing!
Do your research—If you work for a larger company and are interested in generating a conversation with a member of company leadership, take 5 minutes to see what your target contact has been up to recently. Whether that is work-related or in their free time, they will appreciate the personal touch outside of, “Hey, how’s it going?”
So there you have it, folks. At the end of the day, your career will not be made or lost while having a beer with co-workers, but these pointers should make it a bit more enjoyable and beneficial. Plus, a good number of these tips can also apply to the company cafeteria or any number of social functions other than the good ole company happy hour.