Maybe you’ve been invited to several after-work happy hours in the past, and you’ve chosen not to attend. You may not be comfortable at those gatherings, and you reason that since it’s not during paid working hours, you aren’t required to attend.

While all this might be true, you may want to rethink your decision to stay away. After all, you could be missing out on opportunities to enhance your career and get yourself noticed positively. Sharing experiences with your co-workers in a relaxed setting can make it easier to communicate on the job. And if your boss is there, you get to show a different side of yourself than you do during working hours.

To make the most of your time at happy hour, here are five tips to help you get through it successfully:

Relax, but not too much

Since it’s not work, people will start to kick back and have fun. You should, too. Perhaps a drink will help you unwind and relieve your anxieties about being there. It will also show your co-workers you are just like them and like to have a little fun when you’re not working.

Let your hair down, but keep in mind you’ll be seeing everyone at work soon. Don’t cast off all your inhibitions and do things you’ll regret. Don’t share too much, including the tattoo on your hip you got during one wild spring break. Watch your boss, and follow their lead.

Pace yourself

Enjoy a drink or two to help you relax, but stay under control. Switch to a soft drink or water if your reflexes begin to slow down or you start to slur your words. Even if everyone in the group is putting away the drinks at a rapid pace, you don’t have to keep up. Let them have regrets the next day!

Stay away from shop talk unless someone else starts it

Most people go to a happy hour to forget about work, so try to think of something to talk about that isn’t related to the job. You might be surprised at all the things you’ll find you have in common with your co-workers. It might even be a good idea to prepare yourself with some intelligent insights in case a topic from work comes up.

Open up about yourself without being too honest

Talk about your hobbies, places you have visited, your family or your favorite sports team. It shows your personal side and can be quite endearing. But don’t tell anyone in private anything you wouldn’t want the group to know. Because there’s a good chance that confidential nugget will become common knowledge.

Happy hour is not the time to flirt

Avoid flirting at all costs. Even if you’re sensing a good vibe from someone. Nothing good has ever come from hooking up at a company happy hour.

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