Legal Practice

Work is Work: Social Gatherings

I feel like a viejita lecturing about behavior at work, but I’m going to do it anyway. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

First, a story:

I know someone (nameless and not me!) that got black out drunk at a company event; got sick the next day at work; and it took about two years (when the next new coworker got too drunk) before their coworkers (and bosses) stopped teasing them about it.  Mortifying, no?

So because the holiday season is here, it just seems like the appropriate time to remind ourselves to not be fooled by the glittery warmth that is the holiday season into thinking parties we attend during company time or with company people, isn’t work. Work is work and you need to remind yourself of that lest you accidentally overdo it and sully your reputation–and yes, that does happen.  I feel like this is a larger risk within our field because drinking is so prevalent. I’m not a teetotaler or saying you can’t have fun at work; what I mean is to remain conscious of your actions as much as possible.

If you’re new, then you need to take some time to learn the culture of your office. And then abide by it. This is more for the drinkers than the non-drinkers (if you don’t drink then I don’t mean you have to start drinking to fit in, obviously not). But get a feel for your group, do people relax once they’re socializing? Are they reserved? Do people stick to wine or beer? One drink and they’re done? etc etc. Pick up on cues and try to stick with them so that you don’t look out of place. It’s not that drinking is bad or preferring liquor over beer is bad, but rather you want to show that you are capable of good judgement and fitting in with the culture is a prime example of that.

Once you’ve been somewhere for a while you may know the culture so well that you get comfortable. Don’t ever get too comfortable. It is so easy to do! The lines are blurred now with social media crossing our work associates with our personal lives. And it’s inevitable (and human nature) that you will make friends at work. It’s a given that you will be comfortable and friendly with certain people, but you should never take that idea and apply it to the entire agency. When you’re with a larger group or higher ups you don’t normally interact with, act as professionally as possible. Maybe that seems boring, but you don’t want to be a running joke in your office. You don’t want to aim to be the “fun” coworker because when partners are looking to promote they don’t look for the fun associate. They look for the smart and productive one.

Finally, remember that there are few things worth risking your reputation. Wil’ing out at Xmas is not one of them. Know your limits and stick to them. If you’re desperate for a blackout (and who isn’t every now and then?)–go out with your real friends afterwards.