How to Handle a Non-Drinker at the Office

by Evil HR Lady on December 31, 2018

Nicolette doesn’t drink alcohol. Why isn’t important, and, in fact, I didn’t ask her and she didn’t volunteer the information. But, she did share this story:

After years of happily going about my non-drinking business, I was suddenly confronted with a boss who refused to buy me a soft drink as part of his round in the pub after our Christmas lunch. I felt very uncomfortable, especially as he didn’t seem to have an issue getting one for my Muslim colleague! Another colleague stepped in to tell him how ridiculous he was being. It isn’t a crime not to drink!! So if you want to go ahead, but leave those who choose not to to their virgin mojito!

I would like to state that her boss is an anomaly but as a fellow non-drinker, I can tell you her boss has many people out there who get equally upset when someone declines the offer to drink alcohol.

Now, the proper thing to do is offer something different if someone declines your alcoholic beverage, but not freak out. But, that’s just good manners. As a boss, of the organizer of the company party, or the networking meeting, or whatever, you have legal reasons for not pushing someone to drink. Here are a few.

To keep reading, click here: How to Handle a Non-Drinker at the Office

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

MariaRose December 31, 2018 at 4:37 pm

As article states there’s many reasons that people don’t drink including not liking alcohol. In situations like this, buying a round for all, buying a non-alcohol drink should not be problematic, as the drink order should be given to include everyone. One should never judge another by their drinking habits.
I have had to cut back on any alcohol because of medication and the only problem is my disappointment to enjoy a nice glass of wine with my meal.

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Elizabeth West December 31, 2018 at 5:40 pm

This this this. I don’t want to drink with colleagues. Even being anywhere with them outside work is not my thing. The last thing I want to do is get tiddly around them. I’ll save that for when I’m with friends.
Besides, I always end up driving myself, since we don’t have good public transport here, so I usually just don’t drink at all. I don’t really miss out on anything.

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Goober December 31, 2018 at 5:47 pm

These days, I can play the medical card (because alcohol doesn’t play well with diabetic medication), but I’ve always been a non-drinker because I just can’t stand the taste of alcohol. Never had an issue at work, because I’ve never worked for anyone that irrational long enough for it to come up, but I have a number of friends who spent years trying to convince me that just hadn’t tried the “good stuff.”

Yes, I have. It still tastes like moose pee. The moose might well be wearing a chef’s hat, but it still comes out of the same end. I’d rather drink used motor oil.

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..Kat.. January 1, 2019 at 6:59 am

I am concerned that you know what moose pee tastes like. =)

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Goober January 1, 2019 at 9:59 am

I can only imagine. But having been something of a gearhead in high school, I *do* know what used motor oil tastes like, and it’s preferable to the taste of alcohol.

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Mr No P Leez January 1, 2019 at 3:11 pm

That’s the local 3.2% brew sold to those under age 21 in Ohio (in times long past)? I referred to it as Camel P, just to give it an exotic ‘air.’

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Phil December 31, 2018 at 6:32 pm

I’m 72-today!-and stopped drinking half a lifetime ago. It never stops surprising me how many people press alcohol on me. Sometimes I’m polite, sometimes I’m not. Sometimes if they are really pressing I just say, in the nicest possible time,” I’m a lush. If I have one drink I’ll end up in the gutter.”
That stops ’em.

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Ruth (UK) December 31, 2018 at 7:00 pm

When I was a uni student, I had a housemate who was assaulted while drunk. She was made to feel that she was partly at fault. Sadly, society still does that. Following that, I was teetotal for a little over two years as drinking made me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. During that time, I experienced a lot of pressure to drink, especially as a young person.

I drink a low/moderate amount now (I don’t regularly exceed more than 1 or 2 pints (beer or sometimes shandy) on a night out and rarely have other types of alcohol. I would say I almost never get comments now on what I choose to drink.

Being a non drinker for a while really shed some light on how negative people can be in their attitude towards it. Something I hadn’t noticed before. Even if you’re trying to just quietly have a soft drink, people will draw a lot of attention to it and then act like you’re the one who made it a big deal.

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Dorothy December 31, 2018 at 8:23 pm

“Now, the proper thing to do is offer something different if someone declines your alcoholic beverage …”

An offer of a drink is a gift. If someone declines your gift, no hat, no foul. For the love of Mike, dint press the person to accept, don’t make fun of the person, dint comment at all.

And, sure, offer an alternative, but …

Again, it’s an offer of a gift. If the person declines, I don’t recognize an OBLIGATION to offer an alternative. If I knit you a hat, you wouldn’t say, “No, thanks; knit me a pair of socks instead.”

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grannybunny January 2, 2019 at 3:35 pm

Oh, please, don’t get all snooty because someone declined to accept your “gift” of alcohol. Since when is providing beverages to some, but not ALL, employees at a work event, considered acceptable? It’s simple, common, courtesy for a meeting host providing refreshments to provide items foreseeably inclusive for everyone.

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grannybunny January 2, 2019 at 3:38 pm

“How to Handle a Non-Drinker at the Office” suggests that a non-drinker is somehow a problem. The real problem is those who would make an issue of an employee’s declining an alcoholic drink. An much more serious problem is “How to Handle a Drinker at the Office.”

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