Glenford Smith | Drinking alcohol with co-workers
QUESTION: I find your Gleaner columns very interesting and informative. I have a problem. About two weeks ago, I went out with some friends from work. I started drinking and one cocktail led to two and two led to three, and so on. I lost count of how many I drank. I ended up very drunk and was told of some stupid stuff I did. Since then I have sensed some aloofness in my relationships with the females and even my best friend. I feel awful about the whole thing. Should I go to them about it even though none of them has approached me?
– S. F.
CAREERS: Thank you for reading The Gleaner articles. I am pleased that you find them interesting and informative.
I sympathise with your unfortunate dilemma.
It is never a good idea to go out and drink alcohol with your co-workers, if you know you are light of tongue. In other words, if you know you have the tendency to talk a lot when you become inebriated, don’t drink when you go out with co-workers. A situation such as yours is usually the consequence – you end up talking too much. Embarrassment is the result.
You seem to have offended the women, and your best friend is embarrassed for you, even if he is not as offended. You seem genuinely remorseful to say you “feel awful” about what took place. Since you have detected this distance and reservation, you need to apologise.
So yes, go to them. Meet with each one and express how awful you feel for saying something to offend them. Apologise unreservedly and unequivocally to each for getting drunk and for saying the things you did. Give them your word that it will not happen again, and mean it. After you have apologised, there is nothing else you can do. Just treat the women with respect and kindness, and try to move on from the whole affair.
Apologise to your friend, too. For all you know, he may have been defending you. Apologise for putting him in such an embarrassing situation. More than likely, he’ll understand and appreciate your coming to him.
You will perhaps feel silly and self-conscious a few days after, but you would have done the right thing and apologised. Just try and forget it and move on.
Keep the importance of your job front and centre and top of mind. Bear this in mind when drinking with co-workers. It’s never good to forget that you are in a professional environment even though you are not in the office. Be professional, always, when you’re around co-workers. They are taking notes of what you say and how you behave. Be careful that you don’t cross the line of propriety and decorum, no matter the venue.
Be careful of bringing up things from your past – don’t bring up the stupid stuff you did. Everybody does some stupid things; so leave it right there in your past where it belongs.
Glenford Smith is president of CareerBiz Coach and author of From Problems to Power and Profile of Excellence.