Do I have to Go? How to Deal with After-work Socializing.

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Does your workplace have a strong after hours socializing culture? Every company is different—every department is different. But in some offices the social invitations are nearly constant. Whether it’s baby showers or just drinks and karaoke after work, very few work environments are completely free from post-work socializing. If you’re a social butterfly, this probably isn’t a problem. But if you’re one of those “keep your head down and do your work” types who just wants to put in their forty hours a week and then get the heck out of there, the pressure to be social after work can be a giant headache.

The average adult spends 38 minutes a day socializing and communicating. So if you’re average, you probably have a little extra time each week that you would not mind spending in a social atmosphere. Not everyone wants to spend those hours with coworkers they already spend eight hours a day with, however. So how can you get out of all of that socializing time without seeming like the office jerk?

1 – Accept it.

And by “accept it” we mean you would probably be well advised accept a group workplace social invitation once in a while. If everyone goes out for drinks once a week, and you have no moral objections, you would probably do well to make an effort to go about once a quarter. We’d all love to climb the corporate ladder without playing these games, but we all know there tends to be a social component to professional advancement—for better or for worse.

If you can, try to be open to experiences and conversations when you do go out with coworkers. You might actually make some good contacts, or strengthen working relationships. Or you might be miserable the whole time! Sometimes there’s no silver lining!

2 – Set the parameters yourself.

If your corporate culture is very social activity focused but you don’t like doing the socializing, try taking the lead on an activity once or twice a year so that you won’t mind attending. Do you like paintball? Golf? Concerts? Food trucks? Arthouse movies? Arrange an after work social outing around an activity you actually enjoy, and then if no one or only a few people attend, you’ll still be doing something you like and you’ll get credit for being involved enough in the social atmosphere to plan something.

3 – Don’t complain about it.

You might hate the after hours socializing atmosphere at work, but it’s probably best not to be too vocal about it. You can turn down most social invitations as long as you don’t give anyone the impression that you’re just not interested in hanging out with your coworkers. It wouldn’t hurt to occasionally mention your regular after hours obligations to home or family or friends so people will just assume you’re too busy to make the regular wine bar Wednesday get together. Most of all, when you do find that you can’t refuse yet another invitation, try to sincerely enjoy yourself!