Fact: Holiday parties and booze go together like Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss. Not getting your drink on is perfectly fine, but the decision to abstain can bring on its own brand of awkwarrd. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research that’s especially true when the shindig you’re attending is a work-related one.
It makes total sense: You don’t want to miss out on socializing with your work friends or scoring brownie points with the boss, but you also don’t want to give off the impression you’re holier-than-thou or don’t know how to have a good time. “Drinking can be a big part of workplace culture, and being viewed as an outsider for any reason can hurt you professionally,” Lynsey Romo, communication researcher at NC State and lead researcher said in a statement. Abstaining can feel like you’re disrespecting your coworkers who are drinking by making them feel bad or uncomfortable.
In the study, researchers interviewed successful professionals who don’t drink to learn how they deflect attention away from it. Researched found that most non-drinkers didn’t drop the sobriety bomb on their co-workers. Instead, they downplayed their alcohol-free ways and kept their reasons super casual.
They’d decline drinks in ways that made their sobriety no biggie. For example, instead of saying, “I don’t drink,” participants would say things like, “I’m driving” or “I’ve got an early morning” to avoid any awkwardness. These are great lines to throw in your back pocket just in case.Others would buy an alcoholic bevvy — but not drink it ‚ in order to blend in with their co-workers. Instead, order a drink that looks like alcohol (such as a tonic and lime) so you’ll have something to sip on while everyone else is getting buzzed. Additional participants would say they were trying to lose weight or alcohol gives them monster migraines. Some even went so far as to buy a round of drinks for their work buds to show they were cool with their drinking or volunteer to be a designated driver.
If all else fails? Pour a shot of humor. For example, saying something like “I’m still hungover from the last holiday party,” gives you the perfect opportunity to not only lighten the moment, but steer the conversation to stress-free waters. And if someone straight-up asks you whether you are pregnant or a recovering alcoholic, well, that person is too rude to require a response.
And not to go all “Full House” on you or anything, but there’s nothing wrong with being yourself and being the openly sober one in the crowd. As long as you’re confident about your decision, you won’t come off as judgmental or stick-in-the-muddy, nor will you feel the need to explain yourself or justify your decision. PPlus, your co-workers will be too hungover to remember tomorrow anyway.