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Guide to socializing with your coworkers

When it comes to socializing with your coworkers, walking the tightrope between work and fun can prove to be extremely tricky. When you go out with your coworkers to happy hour, you want to be yourself and enjoy it, but you also need to be aware of your appearance around your colleagues – especially in front of your boss. Below, are some tips for finding the balance between work and play when socializing with coworkers:

1. Avoid controversial topics such as money, religion, and politics. When spending time with your coworkers outside of work, it is important to avoid topics that could easily offend someone. It is generally true that discussing money, religion, or politics will end with someone feeling offended. Always be conscious of where you steer the conversation, and be hesitant to put in your two cents if someone else steers it to one of these topics. While discussing these topics can be interesting and fun to debate with friends, at school or with family, work relationships can be delicate.

2. Avoid negative talk. Good topics of discussion at happy hour: family stories, vacation experiences, current events, movies and music. Not so good: problems at work, negative feelings towards the company, a colleague or your boss. While it may feel good at the time to commiserate with your colleagues about work issues, ultimately this results in a negative atmosphere. Furthermore, if you complain about your boss or fellow colleagues, you are likely to be viewed as untrustworthy. What’s stopping you from talking about those you are with as soon as they leave? Seek to promote a constructive atmosphere when spending time with coworkers. This will allow you to build those relationships and present yourself in a positive light.

socializing with coworkers

3. Be cautious with your alcohol intake. One of the most common activities where you will find yourself socializing with coworkers is happy hour. To avoid putting yourself in a potentially embarrassing situation, limit yourself to 1-2 drinks. Everyone handles their alcohol differently, so make sure that you are self-aware. It is certainly better to be less buzzed rather than more buzzed when it comes to socializing with your colleagues, so err on the side of caution!

4. Don’t become overly friendly with management. While spending time with your colleagues is generally viewed as appropriate, eyebrows may be raised if you spend too much alone time with the management at your company. Of course, all office cultures are different and maybe your boss’s idea of a meeting is over lunch or drinks, but it doesn’t hurt to use this as a general rule. In your relationships with authoritative figures, limit time spent alone or outside of work as doing so could result in potentially awkward situations in the workplace.

Although these tips focus on “don’ts” of socializing with coworkers, definitely DO socialize with them! Spending time with your colleagues outside of work results in many benefits: stronger feelings of togetherness during work hours, expansion of your professional network, and the formation of friendships. Certainly, finding the happy balance between work and play is important, but executing this balance successfully will result in a more enjoyable work environment, as well as more fulfilling relationships with your colleagues.

If you have any tips of your own that you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment!

Photos and blog by John Monahan

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!