The festive season is upon us once more, and for many people, this traditionally means having a social drink with work colleagues and often with clients too.
It’s a fact that many employees are subconsciously winding down before Christmas, becoming less productive as the holiday break approaches.
Attending business meetings may be the last thing you feel like doing, but whatever the time of year, the company won’t run itself and the necessary meetings must continue until the official holiday period begins.
Often, employees might find themselves invited out for a Christmas lunch with a client. It would be rude to say no, but it would be equally poor form to take advantage of the fact alcohol will most likely be on the table.
A good bit of advice for everyone at Christmas is not to let a “liquid lunch” interfere with business relationships, or impact on any afternoon meetings with management or clients.
Even if you work for a company that permits employees to consume alcohol at business meetings, it would be inappropriate to over-indulge and subsequently to behave in a foolish manner that shows the individual (and the company) in a negative light.
Although intoxication may seem acceptable in the heat of the moment, the following day (however hard we try to pretend it was a civilised meeting, reflecting on our year of collaboration and teamwork), it’s impossible to view it as anything other than a somewhat embarrassing blip on our record.
Potential for disaster
Some employees make a conscious decision not to drink alcohol at business meetings, even at corporate Christmas lunches, because of the potential for disaster afterwards.
Of course, it’s not only junior members of staff who need to ensure they don’t over-indulge at festive gatherings. Even senior managers who have “one too many” can end up losing the respect of those who are supposed to look up to their leadership.
Surveys of office workers have found that colleagues on all levels have made some glaring errors of judgment during the festive period. One junior staff member spoke of a senior manager, who consumed several glasses of wine and then approached the junior to ask why her emails were never answered promptly.
The conversation occurred during an afternoon meeting just before Christmas, when the manager had taken advantage of a free bar and the junior was sober.
The manager’s demeanour was described as being like that of a “whiny teenager” rather than the head of a department for the past decade, causing embarrassment to both parties the following day.
Other horror stories described by office staff included the financial manager who over-indulged at a lunchtime meeting and began dancing with himself in a corner. Another involved the quiet colleague who kept himself to himself all year and then suddenly revealed, after a few too many drinks, that he was leaving his wife for another woman in the New Year!
These situations made it difficult for all parties to face each other in the office the following morning, when everyone hedged round the embarrassing scenarios of the previous day and tried to pretend that they had never happened.
Considering that alcohol had clouded employees’ judgment and caused shame afterwards, imagine how much worse it could have been if the embarrassing incident had occurred with an important client!
The moral of the tale is that although it’s Christmas and we’re all feeling festive, don’t let alcohol take over and convince you you’re invincible and that you can say and do as you please.
At best, you could end up with a sore head and losing colleagues’ respect the next day. At worst, you could offend a senior manager, or an important client, jeopardising your future with the company. Always think before you drink!
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