The No. 1 Reason You Should NEVER Drink at an Office Function

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An old Tibetan monk once said: “A drunken mouth speaks a sober mind.”

I don’t know if that was actually said by an old monk or just something someone’s grandfather said, but in terms drinking at an office function, it rings as true today as it did when whoever said it, said it.

The ironic part of the statement is that people will go to great lengths to say the opposite. “Oh, Tim, please understand I didn’t mean that you are completely incapable of everything – it was the whiskey talking – I don’t really believe that.”

People who drink say the darndest things

Yes you do! That’s why you said it when you were drunk – you didn’t have any filters to stop you from saying it!

As an HR Pro, I love going to work functions that involve alcohol. Sure there are some legal/safety risks, but the information you get on your organization is priceless! The only thing that might be better is to secretly wire-tape my body like they do with the guys that always get caught in the movies, so people will stop asking me why I’m taking notes at the Fifth Friday of the month cocktail parties.

If you ever want to find me at a party, I go to the group who is drinking the most, and, I carry a tray of drinks over with me to ensure everyone gets another round without having to leave the conversation.

The only thing better than employees with too much alcohol in them are the employees that smoke with too much alcohol in them!

Why you should hang with the smokers

These are a unique group of people who tend to talk too much anyway. I mean they are already going outside for 5-10 times per day for 5-10 minute little breaks to get their smoke on, so they are used to coming up with conversation to pass that time away with their smoker friends.

The smoker network gets even better with drinks! People always ask me if I smoke because I go outside with the smokers, and I don’t, but they have the best conversations. Plus, the smokers are the only “group” in your organization that is truly diverse – you’ll get all shapes and sizes, males and females, black, white, blue, secretaries and Vice Presidents – you’ll hear it all!

(Newbie HR Pro tip #23 – Hang with the smokers in your organization; you’ll find out everything before it happens!)

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When I recruit new Employee Relations people, I put a pack of cigs and an ash tray on my desk just to see who bites. I want my ER’s to be smokers!

Have issues with your job? Then don’t drink at parties

OK, so let me get back on track about drinkers.

Here’s my suggestion: If you have some issues with your organization, or feel some ill will toward anyone you’ll be around, skip the alcohol and tell everyone you are on some kind of medication that will make you violently ill if you have a drop of alcohol. Do this when everyone asks why you aren’t drinking (which will happen because everyone is used to you making an ass of yourself, and they like the entertainment).

Next, leave early, faking your same illness, because everyone that is drinking will be talking about you – so it will be uncomfortable.

Lastly, head straight to the bar with your best work friend to find out all the gossip!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


5 Comments on “The No. 1 Reason You Should NEVER Drink at an Office Function

  1. Thanks Tim,

    The number one reason for not drinking at parties is as you describe.  The number two reason for not drinking at parties is because Tim might be there.

    These suggestions are entertaining and instructive to boot.  Your putting it out there, as a watch out, is also informative because there is always someone like you–watching…having a laugh…and/or trying to take advantage of the situation and the unsuspecting. 

    Please know I’m not defending the jerks at work, or suggesting you’re taking advantage of anyone personally.  I’m just not a fan of the approach you so creatively outline here, particularly the enabling part of it.  It paints a picture of how to access inside information from fellow workers, but ends up being righteously sneaky and somewhat arrogant.

    You realize, of course, that now you’ve outed yourself as a spectator with an agenda.  So I guess you’ve somewhat closed that avenue for gossip, stupidity and the viewing of human frailty.  And you’ve also outed anyone curiously not drinking among the drinkers yet is happy to contribute to their inebriation.  The loss of such juicy gossip is priceless and, in a way, just desserts for such a spectator sport.

    I’m a non-drinker and I avoid parties for the very reason you love to go to them.  I don’t need parties to get a gander at the darker side of a person, or people I work with.  I will give them a pass if they are not in their right mind–or even help them safely home when necessary.  It’s a common courtesy I learned early in life from having an alcoholic father who, in the end, was only human—particularly having failed to adjust to a 100% disability suffered from injuries related to the Korean War.

    Yes, all heavy drinkers are not all war veterans, but having a laugh at another’s expense, even if it reveals a complete and utter idiot, puts you on a lower level in a way–unless of course they are giving out classified information and you can now become the hero by turning them over to the authorities.

    1. Valentino- I realize this was a while ago but I think this story is hyberbole and meant to be funny with a dash of truth, not to be taken literally.

      Tim- If this is actually 100% true, I wish I could land an EVP role at an organization where it is ok to act this way and write about it without repercussions. Either way congrats. Fun article.

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