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Business and Alcohol

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"The most popular safe business-image libations are wine and scotch, challenged in the last decade by vodka mixed drinks. But a vodka Martini, because it is so potent, is a negative at high visibility times," said Knapp, who over 25 years has coached the CEOs of 31 corporations, diplomats and top-level managers from 29 countries. "Beer, if a client is drinking it, allows you to do the same ... but always order a premium or name brand."

Those who do not consume alcoholic beverages should have something that looks like one, or order a glass of wine and let it sit on the table, he told Reuters. "At least be gracious to the point of ordering as part of the relationship-building process."

Recent Reuters full Article Here

Hmmmmm. I'm not sure I agree with that suggestion that for those that choose not to consume alcohol to order something that looks like you do. Further down in the article a professor of psychiatry states that there is "nothing wrong" with consuming alcohol, but according to this CEO "coach" there seems to be something wrong with not consuming alcohol. :rolleyes:

Oh, yeah, it is the bonding.... :biggrin:

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" Business and Alcohol, Do they mix?"

Generally, I'd say no. If it's a first time get together, it's fine if all agree. When it gets down to the nuts and bolts of a deal it's better to be absolutely straight. It's better if everyone, including yourself, be very clear about what's going on - and perhaps more important that everyone be able to fully recollect what was said, and when, later on. Some people can't handle even a little alcohol and you don't want that messing things up.

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It depends on the nature of the get-together. Some occasions are primarily social in nature, and at those, I think, alcohol can be appropriate. But some dinners and lunches really are business meetings in disguise, and I'd say that at that type of affair, alcohol might be a bad idea.

I think problems arise when the participants are unclear on the nature of the meeting, and, unfortunately, that's not always as easy thing to figure out. When I used to be a part of the business world, I always took my cues from my bosses. If they ordered wine, I would; if they didn't, I wouldn't.

In commercial real estate, we had a lot of functions that were primarily social, so much drinking was done at those. But we never ordered drinks at purely business lunches. Sometimes we'd have combination meetings, where we'd get the business over, and then stay on for a social hour or two. No alcohol until after the business part was over.

These days, one of the things I do is culinary "team building" events, where a group of business people get together to cook and eat a meal (under the guidance of several instructors). The clients are always responsible for bringing any alcohol they want to drink, and most bring wine. I think the presence of the wine signals to the participants that it's going to be a social evening; most do drink, but few do it to excess, thankfully (just what I want -- a kitchen full of drunken wannabe chefs with knives).

It seems to me that as a general rule, people drink less at business-related functions than they used to, even four or five years ago. I'm not sure why that is, but I'd like to think people are getting a little smarter.

One final thought: it's terrible advice to encourage someone who doesn't drink to order something alcoholic to "fit in." Whatever someone's reason for not drinking, I think it's the height of boorishness to assume it's something to hide, or to draw attention to it.

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I lunch or dine with clients a lot, both mine and my husband's. And in my previous life, I did the same with vendors or contractors. With my clients I tend to follow their lead. If they aren't drinking, neither am I. Or, if we are hammering out the fine points of a contract, we'll wait to have a drink until that part is done.

Lunches tend to be more business focused, while dinners are more socially inclined.


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I think alcohol has no place at business events particularly when clients are involved. I base this on my own experiences. The two that stick out most vividly are:

Event 1: Business lunch. Me and a colleague were hosting. My co-worker drank an enormous amount and started telling very inappropriate stories. This led to him asking people personal questions such what type of underwear did they wear. At the end of the 4 hour lunch, the drinks portion of the bill was more than twice the food. And my colleague kissed me on lips without my consent.

Event 2: Holiday party. A co-worker drank more than he could handle and vomited into the lap of client. It was disgusting and embarrassing.

In both cases the need to go into crisis mode was a direct result of drinking. The perpetrators were oblivious to the problems they caused and were completely unapologetic. (The guy who kissed me had the nerve to tell me I should "lighten up.")

As such, my rule of thumb is to stick with iced tea. This way I have a drink, but I'm in total control all times.


Edited by bloviatrix (log)

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Well, if you're in the wine business there's little question that business and alcohol can, do, and should mix . . . .

My point being, it really does depend on context. In the context of the hard-driving, machismo-centered world of Wall Street business-socializing, that Reuter's guy is in my opinion correct. In other contexts, it may be best not to drink, or to follow a client's lead.

It also depends on the individual. Alcoholics or people who habitually let alcohol significantly hinder their judgment should not drink, probably ever, but definitely not in a business setting.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Ive done aviation business all over the world, and agree with Fat Guy that context indeed is a watchword for this issue.

To no one's surprise, when doing business in Saudi Arabia, clearly, no alcohol is the rule [indeed, the law]; interestingly, with some of the same Saudis in, for example, London, alcohol could be an acceptable part of a business meal [depends on the individual, so following the client's lead is the way to go]. On the other hand, it's hard to bond in China or Korea without some heavy drinking with your opposite number - usually good, expensive stuff; not that bonding is impossible for non-drinkers, mind you, but clearly drinking is an expectation in many situations in these countries. In the US my experience is that business people typically don't drink during daytime business events unless they're of a plainly social / bonding nature, as at , for example, a sponsored golf tournement and that light drinking at the evening meal often happens unless it's a meal at the negotiating table, where I've never seen drinking. In Europe, light drinking at lunch or dinner , wine typically, isn't as uncommon as in the US.

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