Heading out for some cocktails with colleagues? Office happy hour can be your best friend or your worst nightmare—it's all about your approach. As you know, your goal is to strike the right balance between loosening your proverbial tie and maintaining a certain level of professional decorum...and here's how:
1. Do chat with the coworker you usually don't talk to. With a little social lubricant in hand, you have no reason not to make a new office ally—and if you've never quite been able to remember his or her name, you can blame it on the cocktail.
2. Don't have more than two drinks. Yes, even if your boss does. You don't want to be appreciably more drunk than anyone else present. Actually, you don't really want to be drunk at all. Save that for the small-group weekend gathering with your closer work pals. That way if you get a little blab-y about the latest office gossip or boss annoyance, you'll know your secrets are safe. That being said...
3. Do let your guard down. The point of drinks with colleagues is to get to know each other outside of your daily gchats and official business interactions. You don't want to be the stiff person in the corner who talks about what happened in today's staff meeting. Which, actually...
4. Don't talk about work. Talking about the environment in which you work is fine, and natural, but the second you make this a "productive" conversation, you've crossed over into not-ideal happy hour territory.
5. Do talk about your hobbies/obsessions. You're not just a PR genius, but a Veep diehard who's a sample sale warrior on the weekends. Which gives you and your coworkers two new things to bond over.
6. Don't have your eyes glued to your phone. It's not polite in any social situation, but is especially tiresome when you're surrounded by colleagues who just want to forget about work for a few hours.
7. Do up your wardrobe game for the night. Compliments are an instant conversation starter—opt for office outfits that will invite them.
8. Don't flirt with coworkers. Not only is it technically inappropriate, but, um, the entire office is definitely watching.
9. Do buy your colleagues a round. If your boss isn't picking up the tab and you can afford it, go for it! It's a small gesture with major morale-boosting power.
10. Don't go to the after-party. You will inevitably end up with another drink in your hand...and a potentially not-fun headache when your alarm clock blares in the morning. Instead, make like a lady and gracefully bow out. Leaves more to talk about next time.