Whether it’s for religious reasons, dealing with addiction issues or just due to personal preference, many people don’t drink alcohol. Unfortunately, the business world tends to be swimming in the stuff.
Abstaining from excess is admirable, but it may not feel that way when it comes to your career. People typically bond at workplace happy hours and industry conference social events. Simply put, avoiding alcohol can feel like a career disadvantage.
It shouldn’t feel that way, however. With the right mindset, you can embrace your sober lifestyle at work-related function without negative repercussions.
Don’t Put Pressure on Yourself
Career success is based partly on impressing other people, and some people who avoid alcohol may be worried that turning down drinks will make them seem unimpressive.
However, the business world is currently trying to shake off many toxic elements. Given all the recent headlines related to inappropriate behavior at work, avoiding alcohol around colleagues is increasingly being seen as a smart decision.
Figure Out How to Put It Just Right
You should also figure out a way to let people know you’re not drinking without making it seem like you are judging them for drinking.
How much you reveal about your decision is up to you and the company culture. Obviously, if your religion strictly forbids alcohol, telling your colleagues is pretty straightforward. However, if you don’t drink for private reasons, such as a history of addiction, revealing your reasons, if at all, can be tricky.
If you do decide to share your reason for not drinking, you should practice what you will say and ask a trusted loved one to help you role-play a situation. Or, you can simply say, “Thanks, but I don’t drink,” when someone offers. Mention you avoid drinking at work functions because you think it is a smart career idea.
Above all, you should be firm and stand your ground. Don’t give the impression you are open to negotiation on this decision.
Have a Plan B
If you don’t feel up to talking about not drinking, you can always just avoid the subject. Ordering a soda water with lemon gives you a drink to hold, making people less likely to ask why you are not drinking. Or, you could talk about how you have to be sober to pick up your kids or run important errands. You could also offer to be everyone’s designated driver.
Embrace Alcohol-Free Gatherings
If you don’t want to even be around alcohol, then don’t be. Instead of enduring an event you feel uncomfortable attending, go to office lunches, grab coffee with co-workers and encourage activities that don’t focus on drinking.
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