My company's holiday part was this weekend. It was a fun event, I had a pretty good time. There was food, entertainment, a lovely venue, and of course an open bar. However, I myself did not take advantage of the latter because I have a hard rule which I always follow. I NEVER drink around coworkers.
Now I'm not a heavy drinker anyway but I do enjoy having a few drinks occasionally as much as the next guy. But if I am in a work setting where the majority of the people are my coworkers, I do not have a single drink. Not one. While it may sound uptight, I am following very logical reasoning. There is absolutely no upside to drinking with coworkers yet there is huge downside.
Nobody thinks it is odd when I do not drink. I usually just tell people I am driving so I don't want to have anything. This is true anyway so nobody thinks it is too odd. But there is more to the story than just this. I am making a very conscience choice not to drink so that I am viewed as someone who is always in complete control of myself. To rise to the top, which is one of my goals, you have to be viewed as a leader. Leaders are always in control. Therefore you should not drink around those who make decisions about your career growth.
Now, I'm not saying that if you drink you can't rise to the top. That would be silly as I'm sure plenty of America's CEO's drink when around coworkers. But I highly doubt anybody made it there because they drank and I bet more than one person has had his career derailed because of some foolish drunken mishaps at a work function.
I watched as a coworker and a friend of mine who had a little too much to drink made several off color remarks in front of the entire executive and management team. Everybody was laughing, and I'm sure nothing bad will come from this. He will not get reprimanded or anything even close, and he really should not be. But will anything good come from this? Do you think that when it comes time for promotions people won't remember these types of situations and think someone less "colorful" would not make a better choice?