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Career Question
Asked by LataGata on Apr. 12, 2010
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Is it ok to have a drink at a business lunch?


If I’m at lunch with clients is it ever ok to have a drink? I obviously don’t mean anything excessive. But if they’re having wine, can I have some too?



Any question that ends with "at work" can usually be answered by, "it depends upon the company's culture so you're going to have to play it conservative first until you get a feel for the place and then make a decision." But when it comes to drinking at the office, there are some pretty easy ground-rules to follow.

First, if when you ask if you can have a drink at business you mean pulling out a flask from your drawer and taking a sip (i.e., no one else is drinking), then I think you have a bigger problem...

But it's much more likely that you're talking about drinking at work when other people are, like during a Friday happy-hour (which happens at more companies/organizations than you're think).

In that situation, if everyone is drinking, including your boss, then we say have at it...in a controlled way. Have a drink. Don't get drunk. Because getting drunk at the office is the easiest way to have all day to get drunk at home after you've been fired. In addition, it might not be a bad idea to not even drink the first few times just to get a feel for how everyone else treats it. (Also, if you do drink, just make sure you won't get emotional or start discussing things you shouldn't.)

Lastly, if you have work to do after the happy hour, then by no means should you be drinking, even if everyone else is. The easiest way to get the boot is to do work for someone else, who knows you were doing it after drinking alcohol.


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