What to Do if You Drink Too Much at a Holiday Party

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Work and alcohol will never be a winning combination. Once you start drinking with co-workers, you can forget that you’re at a party with people from your office and things can turn a little too unprofessional. You could end up crossing a line — one that could leave you in trouble with HR, your boss, or the disgruntled co-workers you might have offended. It’s too bad you didn’t represent yourself in the best possible light by showing that you can kick back without losing control. Interestingly, you’re not alone in pulling those antics.

A recent survey by Monster, which appeared in CBS Money Watch, states that 5% of respondents were fired because of their behavior at a company party. This shows that people do get into trouble and suffer real, damaging consequences for what they’ve done at an office holiday party. It’s important to consider your company’s culture, how laid back it is, and in turn, how cool your boss is, because that will all matter when determining how far is too far. If you are at a company party and realize you’ve drank too much, here’s how to best handle the situation.

Leave

If you are able to catch yourself before things get out of hand, then congrats on knowing when you’ve hit your limit. HumanResources.com points out one thing you never want to do at an office party: You don’t want to be the last person to leave the party. It doesn’t matter how much controlled fun you’re having or how much you’re enjoying the music, when you stay too long at the office party, you’ve overstayed your welcome.

The longer you stay, the higher the possibility of drinking too much and committing other gaffes you’re going to regret or never live down. Keep everything PG at the office party: Stay for a couple of hours, talk to your co-workers and your boss and make sure you graciously excuse yourself after a couple of hours. Allow your good reputation to remain intact.

Own up to it and apologize

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You stayed too long, drank too much, and behaved unprofessionally. Don’t ignore your behavior and hope that people didn’t notice or that co-workers will have short memories. AskManager.org says that the only thing you can really do to salvage your dignity is to own up to your poor behavior, and make amends by apologizing to anyone you may have offended. Make sure you don’t wait for your boss to approach you; be proactive about it and they may respect you more for your abject apology.

Make sure that when you apologize you don’t make light of the situation; approach your boss in a serious, yet forgiving tone, be direct, and don’t blame anyone else for your behavior. CBS Money Watch explains that saying less is better. “The correct thing to say is, ‘I’m sorry I was belligerent Friday night.'” And leave it at that.

Make up for it

Once you’ve apologized, you have to look to the future and begin to rebuild any tarnished relationships and any damage to your reputation. Not only will you not be drinking at any company events for a long time, but you’re going to need to look for opportunities in the near future to be particularly impressive, polished, and professional.

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