So this week’s big question: when Friday afternoon rolls around should you slink off home to your life far away from work or should you round up some colleagues for a boozy session in the local pub? It’s a complex one, a minefield full of hidden explosives awaiting detonation but it is also potentially the most satisfying end to a stressful week.
The negatives to such an arrangement are easy to spot. A quick cocktail with some nice nibbles in a fancy bar by the river invariably leads to weird looking green shots hours later, as a colleague requests “Blanket on the Ground” for the third time!!!! And you know, although you try to block it out, that you are about to lose half of Saturday to the couch and bad TV, as you resist the urge to eat your way through the hangover. It all starts out classy but the trajectory is invariably downward.
You have to see these people in a professional environment on Monday morning. Being too honest, drinking too much, rating the physical features of your co-workers or explaining what you really think of them can quickly seem a lot less hilarious in the cold light of day. Monday morning blushes can be the cloud to the de-stressing drinks silver-lining.
Over-sharing is an inevitability when there are cocktails involved and decisions about how much of your personal life or past experiences you want to share with co-workers can be made in haste and inevitably repented at leisure. Chronic over-sharing can definitely be a feature when you combine Friday evening tiredness with free-flowing beverages and it is hard to sensibly consider “How much do I want my colleagues to know about my life?” and “How much do I really need to know about theirs?” when you are halfway through your third Gin and slimline.
Finally, when work is what you have in common, not discussing work at length is extremely difficult. Moaning about all that is wrong with the place we spend the majority of the week, and the people who we share that space with, can at times be draining. I love my job but so much less time can be spent celebrating it than criticising it. Not the glossiest end to a week that was probably largely successful.
And so littered with potential pitfalls, why do I go so regularly for drinks with my workmates? And why are they often my favourite part of the week?
Firstly, because we are all so much more than the mask we wear for work. We have more sides to us than the parts we play on that particular stage and we are unquestionably more emotional beings than our professional persona gets a chance to reveal. I love to know a little bit more about people, to see the different faces of each human chameleon, to feel like we have connected as people, not just as professionals. We are humans, not robots, and hanging out without our professional armour leads, I feel, to greater empathy and understanding. One particular colleague has the most endearing ability to wear every single emotion on her face, but most of us hide a lot of what we feel, having been socialised to not let the face betray too much of the heart. Friday evening socialising sees the masks slip a little and this is something I think we should welcome.
A second reason to socialise with my colleagues is that I really like these people. I have loads in common with them, we know huge numbers of the same people, we live in broadly the same geographical area, our careers are identical and generally we have similar values. And yet our paths to where we are today have been very different, our personal lives are varied and the age range makes it technically possible for some members to be parents to others! Therefore you have both homogeneity and diversity within one circle. This definitely brings something special to the table; the conversation is never forced, the laughter never scarce and the harmless gossip seems never-ending. For all the possible negatives, my experience has been that when we sit and unwind friendships blossom – and this is surely what living is for.
Finally, I suffer from intense FOMO. If I am not there, what am I missing? What do they say about me when they are out without me? How much of the aforementioned workplace gossip will I miss out on? And how will I cope without hearing that one great secret that inevitably slips out as tongues begin to loosen? Yep, I really struggle with being left out of the fun side of our working life. And so all in all it is a definite yes to drinks with colleagues, they may even inspire your next blog post. Harmless fun with people who, come Friday evening, transform from co-workers into simply friends xo