Since the days of Shakespeare, and his whimsical drunken repeat character Falstaff (if not earlier) the “wise drunk” has been a point of humor. If you have a similar reputation in your workplace, you can even engage in a sort of self-lie– that people appreciate how much you drink, respect you despite (or even because) of your drinking habits, or that you offer some sort of workplace comic relief or wisdom with your alcohol intake.
But in fact, your drinking habits may have a negative impact on your reputation in the workplace–even cost you promotions, respect, and, eventually, your job. Here’s what to look for, and how to turn it around (before it’s too late).
Signs that Your Drinking Habits are Affecting Your Reputation
The first step is to identify that you even have a reputation problem at work. Since people may not tell you about your reputation to your face, you’ll have to look for telltale signs, such as co-workers:
- Joking about how much you drink
- Showing concern for you and your drinking habits, such as reminding you to have a designated driver after going out
- Suggesting that activities not include alcohol
- Looking at you or asking you how much you have had at work-related functions
- Leaving you out of work-related functions that might have alcohol, such as client dinners
- Not inviting you to outings that might involve alcohol
If you see any of these signs, even if you don’t directly hear anyone talking about your drinking, your reputation may be affected by your drinking habits.
If you have a trusted friend or co-worker who would be honest with you, it might even be a good idea to ask, “Do people think I have a drinking problem?”
Signs that You may have a Drinking Problem
So what are people seeing, that you may or may not observe in yourself? How do you know if you have a drinking problem?
Here are some of the signs of alcohol abuse:
- You drink daily
- You drink to get drunk
- You can’t relax or enjoy yourself without a drink
- You drink more than the recommended limits
- You notice that drinking is affecting your relationships in a negative way
- Despite such negative impacts, you insist on continuing to drink
Fortunately, even if you have a problem with drinking and it is affecting your workplace reputation, you can turn it around and improve your co-worker’s perception of you (and possibly even increase your success in the workplace as a result).
What to Do About It
Whether or not you are actually abusing alcohol, if your workplace reputation has been damaged, it may be time to get proactive about improving your workplace reputation. You can do this in many ways.
For starters, don’t mix work and social time if alcohol is involved. At least for the time being, ensure you have no alcohol in the workplace, even at office-related parties or dinners where others are drinking. Volunteer to be the DD. Openly don’t drink, not necessarily vocally. Word will spread.
Next, decide what sort of reputation you do want. Do you want to be known as the one who is always on time? As the best dressed? Whatever you want to be known for, start embodying that.
If your workplace allows social media connections, where co-workers and even your boss may see that side of your life, be sure that they will see the reputation you want to have: your happiness, your hobbies, your family, but no drinking or partying pictures.
Lastly, persist. A change of reputation can take time, but before you know it, you’ll be seen in the light you desire.