Abstaining from alcohol in the business world?

Fellow monkeys,

I am curious to get your insight on a question that's been bothering me: Is it that much harder to succeed in the business world without drinking alcohol?

Networking often occurs at bars after work, where everyone lets loose and has a drink. Only problem is, I don't drink.

I've been a 'teatotaler' (is that the word?) for a couple years now, and find myself in very awkward situations where everyone I go out with will order a beer and I'm the odd man out drinking water.. I'm hoping I'm overly self-conscious about this, but a part of me feels like such a killjoy when I say 'no thanks' to the bartender.

I can't help but imagine this will have a negative impact somewhere down the line. People less willing to invite me out.. Maybe even as far as missing out on career ops later.

Am I nuts? Do you care about 'that guy' that doesn't drink?

And if you're curious as to why I don't drink, alcohol addiction is prevalent in my family. I've seen firsthand the impact of alcoholism, and made a decision that I would never drink, ever. If this is going to be a real problem as my career goes on, I may have to rethink my decision.

Thanks for reading, look forward to your input!

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Comments (68)

Jun 3, 2011 - 12:42am

My opinion probably doesn't matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, but personally, I'd have a lot more respect for someone who was bold enough to not drink when everyone else is than someone who completely goes against their beliefs just because they feel it will help their career.

That being said, I probably wouldn't go out with you again.

Jun 3, 2011 - 3:32am
gibbons_]Appreciate the replies! I feel a bit silly for starting the thread now, haha. Maybe that answers my question for me? :P</p> <p>[quote=Armistice]<a href=http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/partyingdrinking-culture-at-bbs>http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/partyingdrinking-culture-at-bbs</a></p> <p><a href=http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/does-anybody-here-not-drink[/quote>http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/does-anybody-here-not-drink[/quote</a>:

My bad, tried to search first but didn't use the right terms.

Haha no worries - they were still somewhat buried in the searches I was doing...and I knew exactly what I was looking for.

Jun 3, 2011 - 12:50am

someone who is personable drinking water beats a boring person sipping a beer.

if you're fun to be around it shouldn't make a difference.

you made a decision for a pretty sound reason; don't rethink your convictions based on something silly like thinking colleagues will think you are a "loser" for not drinking. it's a job, not fraternity pledging.

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Jun 3, 2011 - 12:58am

Haha I've actually wondered about this too. I'm not much of a drinker either and I've been wondering if this. From what some people have told me, you'll always have people who will think you're weird, but unless you make it a problem (ie you do act weird/socially awkward), then it won't be. However, I'm probably younger and further away from the industry than most of you guys, so take what I say with a grain of salt

Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer.
Jun 3, 2011 - 2:23am

If you are really worried about it I suggest ordering a drink, something on the rocks, and just not drinking it. Ordering a beer it will be obvious you arent drinking it, if you order say a vodka on the rocks the ice will melt and no one will be any the wiser unless they try to drink it. It will cost you a bit of money to do this but it will help to avoid awkward situations when you are at social events for work where booze is provided.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Jun 3, 2011 - 2:45am

So long as you're a cool person without drinking I think it should be okay. No one is going to care that much that you don't drink I don't think...

I have to say though, drinking alcohol with someone while doing business is like immediately landing on common ground. Everything starts to move more smoothly, people start to speak for frankly, people start to understand eachother, etc... I don't think anyone's going to look down on you if you don't drink, but it'd probably be EASIER if you did.

p.s. don't move to China - drinking here is an absolute requirement

Jun 3, 2011 - 10:36am
TwoFloors:
Or you could just go up to the bartender separately and ask for a coke and tell people it's a rum and coke. Also, some bars will give you free soda/pop if you tell them you're the DD.

^That's a great idea.

Just don't get a glass of milk or water or some other stupid thing: there are plenty of people that go out just to socialize and don't want to drink/get drunk. Just be cool about it and most people won't even notice.

Get busy living
Jun 3, 2011 - 3:07am

If you're worried about it, get a soda in a tumbler with some ice and pretend like it's alcohol. If you're not worried about it (I don't drink except with old friends and I'm not worried about it), just get a glass of water or soda and be yourself. If somebody calls you out on it, they're either a prick or worried you're not having a good time. Just don't be awkward about it.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
Jun 3, 2011 - 3:41am
gibbons_:

And if you're curious as to why I don't drink, alcohol addiction is prevalent in my family. I've seen firsthand the impact of alcoholism, and made a decision that I would never drink, ever. If this is going to be a real problem as my career goes on, I may have to rethink my decision.

I'll just say that you're not alone.

You can always amuse yourself by slipping some ipecac into someone's Jack Daniels

EDIT: The latter part was targeted towards a college context. Would undoubtedly be a bold career move though.

I win here, I win there...
Jun 3, 2011 - 10:17am

I always order virgin drinks at the bars during the week when we go out for a happy hour! Coke with ice is the best..,nobody ever asks. At company events I may have one glass of wine that I will carry around for three hrs..lol..I just cant drink like I used too.. cant deal with hangovers anymore!

Jun 3, 2011 - 11:12am

Even more replies, awesome!

Great insight so far. Seems like the consensus is that if I act like it bothers me, it'll bother them. Otherwise, as long as I have fun and actually attend the social events regardless of alcohol, I'll be alright :)

Jun 3, 2011 - 7:43pm

There is just one requirement for he sober person in the group, you know you have to tea bag the drunkest girl in the group right? Not saying that is a bad thing, just saying it would be much easier to explain with the "We were both so wasted," excuse.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Jun 7, 2011 - 9:53pm
heister:
There is just one requirement for he sober person in the group, you know you have to tea bag the drunkest girl in the group right? Not saying that is a bad thing, just saying it would be much easier to explain with the "We were both so wasted," excuse.

HAHA I thought teabagging ended in college.. Luckily I've never been a victim, and hopefully I never will be crossing my fingers

Jun 7, 2011 - 9:54pm

How Important is Drinking Alochol in business? (Originally Posted: 03/05/2012)

I've never been much of a drinker, don't usually have alcohol in my fridge at home, when I go out with friends only drink about 5 drinks at the max, however, I've always been pretty popular even amongst friends who drink every night/go all out on weekends. Is it THAT important that I become a good drinker?

Jun 7, 2011 - 3:57am

Dude order a vodka on the rocks and pretend to be sipping the shit. Then order water (by the time you're ordering water, guys will be too buzzed to notice the difference). Either way you'll be set, since a standard rule in these cocktail sessions is order 1 drink then order water, repeat..just be strategic you'll be good. And of course like other guys are saying on here, try to actually network - talk to people and shit.

Still I Rise
Jun 7, 2011 - 9:57pm

I think your perception of drinking with coworkers may be a little off. You're not going out with them to get hammered all the time. Sure, you may have a few social gatherings during recruiting season or analyst onboarding, but you already said you drink around 5 drinks when you go out. Quit trying to break down every situation that may come up, and just go to work. The rest will fall into place.

Jun 7, 2011 - 9:59pm

I've never had a drink in my life.

The difference between successful people and others is largely a habit - a controlled habit of doing every task better, faster and more efficiently.
  • 1
Jun 7, 2011 - 10:00pm

I really wouldn't worry about it as long as you're still a good time when you're sober.

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
Jun 7, 2011 - 10:01pm

Drinking is more important than the actual work that you do

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk
Jun 7, 2011 - 10:05pm

Thanks for all the help. I guess I should clarify, I don't cut myself off at 5 drinks (certainly been nights with well over 5), it's just that's about how many I end up having even though some of my friends are getting into double digits...

Jun 7, 2011 - 10:08pm

Not necessarily an alcoholic, but whether or not you have to enjoy drinking. I love sitting around shooting the sh*t with friends who are heavy drinkers even if I'm just having a soda...but I just don't enjoy the taste of alcohol that much.

Jun 7, 2011 - 10:22pm

Train with vodka, try building DCFs of companies that are in the news while 8-10 drinks in. After that, you can do anything.

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
Jun 7, 2011 - 8:31am

I don't know where you're from but here you can order a boar's head or something and its just sprite in a tumbler with a lime. No one knows the difference. See if you can find something like that to order when you go out.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
Jun 7, 2011 - 10:23pm

how to phrase this at happy hours? (Originally Posted: 05/07/2014)

So I will be starting up at a bank this summer and wanted opinions on how this would be perceived/any issues with analyst cohesiveness:

I don't drink/do any hard drugs anymore (been a couple years clean). I know high finance is models and bottles but I don't want to sacrifice my progress just for a job. I'm not your stereotypical AA/teetotaling guy -- I still go to bars/clubs and just have a water or something, and I consider myself very social/fun to be around. But, I've read old posts/online articles about how not drinking can be negatively perceived and impact you in a bad way in terms of career progression. I understand I can just order a coke/club soda at happy hours and all -- is it as simple as doing that or will I be labeled as an outcast?

Jun 7, 2011 - 10:25pm

Depends on what sort of arseholes you work with.

Some people would be totally cool with it. Some people will outcast you, but are likely the sort of arseholes who would outcast anyone slightly different.

Just have a short explanation handy (ie around three sentences) that neatly explains why you're not drinking.

I remember someone telling me there is a medical condition of alcohol intolerance (maybe like gluten intolerance?) - don't be afraid to lie and use that as a simple explanation.

Just make sure that your explanation is not a long life story essay and that there is nothing in your story that implies you make any moral judgment on those who drink or that you're not drinking because of some religious or philosophical hang up.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
  • 1
Jun 7, 2011 - 10:26pm

LAtotheBay:

I know high finance is models and bottles but I don't want to sacrifice my progress just for a job.

You are an incoming first year M&A Analyst, the only models you will see are Excel M&A models and the only bottles you will see are red bull/coke/cold coffee at the office.

Jun 7, 2011 - 10:27pm

No more alcohol... (Originally Posted: 06/21/2012)

i want to quit drinking, at least at the level i used to do but preferably 100% sober most of the time when i go out. is this possible to do in banking?

recently found out that liver disease is hereditary in my family and so for health reasons i really have to cut back on the alcohol. keep in mind i used to be a very heavy drinker so let's just say that i've certainly enjoyed my time with alcohol.

saying no to my friends will be easy, but from all the alcohol forums on here, it sounds like saying no to guys from work will be hard. advice, on how to deal or whether this is even feasible, appreciated.

Jun 7, 2011 - 10:28pm

Why not just tell them you have a health condition that prevents you from drinking that much? No one but a complete asshole would try to get you to do shots knowing that you have a legitimate health reason to not drink.

Jun 7, 2011 - 10:33pm
randomwench:
tell them you have a health condition that prevents you from drinking.

this actually works - i've seen a bunch of people use it before. as for me, i gave up soda.
Jun 7, 2011 - 10:38pm
randomwench:
Why not just tell them you have a health condition that prevents you from drinking that much? No one but a complete asshole would try to get you to do shots knowing that you have a legitimate health reason to not drink.

This...

Jun 7, 2011 - 10:30pm

Order a glass of water and hold it in your hand. Sip on it and tell people its vodka.

Disclaimer for the Kids: Any forward-looking statements are solely for informational purposes and cannot be taken as investment advice. Consult your moms before deciding where to invest.
Jun 7, 2011 - 10:31pm

Eva heard of mocktails?

"Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old"
Jun 7, 2011 - 10:34pm

Seltzer with a lime.

Seriously no one will care if you don't drink when you go out. It's awkward not to have something in your hand so get a water, selzter, soda, whatever.

Jun 7, 2011 - 10:40pm

To Booze or not to Booze? (Originally Posted: 09/06/2011)

I am sure many of us here drink alcohol, but how would you handle it if you were out partying with collegaues and were offered a drink while you do not drink alcohol (but have no issue partying all night)?Is it badly perceived to be a non drinker in IB?Let me take it further what if you are a piscatarian as well, would you be perceived as too out there? How are these types of things viewed in the industry?

The dragon dozes off in the spirit which is its dwelling.
Jun 7, 2011 - 10:41pm
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