Drinking seldom makes people more reticent or polite, so teetotalers are wise to plan ahead for these boozy encounters.
Q: Every year, during the holiday season, our company hosts a party to which all employees are invited. Because there is always an open bar, this event typically turns into a sloppy, booze-filled celebration which continues into the wee hours of the morning.
Although I don’t condemn others for drinking, I prefer to avoid alcohol. Alcoholism runs in my family, so I have seen first-hand the problems caused by excessive drinking. On top of that, I don’t care for the taste. But while I am willing to tolerate the drinkers’ choices, they seem much less willing to accept mine.
In previous years, my co-workers have teased me about being a party-killer and implied that I am somehow strange, saying things like, “Can’t you just loosen up and have some fun?” This has become so tiresome that I have considered skipping the party altogether. Do you have any advice for managing this situation?
A: Drinking seldom makes people more reticent or polite, so you’re wise to plan ahead for these boozy encounters. If you wish to avoid sticking out, keep a nonalcoholic beverage in your hand at all times. Orange juice, soft drinks, and sparkling water are available at almost every bar. If you are holding a glass, your abstinence will be less obvious.
Avoid making declarations about your sober status. If someone offers to fetch you a drink, just say, “No, thanks. I’ll get something in a little while.” In response to direct inquiries, offer a simple but true reply: “I’ve found that alcohol doesn’t agree with me, but I’m happy with my soda.”
While among the revelers, maintain a cheerful and friendly attitude. As long as you appear to be enjoying yourself, people are less likely to speculate about your alcohol consumption. If obnoxious co-workers make rude or intrusive comments, you have no obligation to respond. Simply change the subject or end the conversation.
Finally, keep all observations about party behavior to yourself. If you don’t want your colleagues to bug you about being sober, you must never mention the stupid things they do when they’re drunk.