So it's just about officially summer. Which means that all of a sudden co-workers will be throwing out all these ideas for "get togethers": patio drinks, BBQs, picnics-- whatever. The point is that these are a social and professional minefield and should be negotiated with care.
As a general rule, I try not to hang out with people from work outside of work. At this job anyway. And as we all know, in order to prove a rule, there must be exceptions. There are a few people that I work with daily that it would be a crime not to hang out with, so fabulous are they.
But generally-- work people and I don't mix socially.
There are a few reasons why. The first one that comes to mind is that aside from the special few, I don't like the people that I work with. I don't find them interesting, I don't plan to continue in the industry and I just get tired of seeing them all day- why would I want to extend that? Another reason is that the people that I work with remind me of, you guessed it, work. And I don't enjoy work so on my off time, why would I want to be reminded of that? And finally, the few times that I have been around them outside of work, being around these people made me want to drink. And I have no real interest in becoming an alcoholic (I admittedly dabble).
One huge problem with work socials is that aside from work, there is no guarantee that you will have anything in common with these people. Which can lead to awkward silences, drink consumption and rehashing of everything that happened at work that day/week. It's depressing really.
But if you do find yourself in a social situation with people from work there are a few things to watch out for.
A Wine-O Boss. I don't know what it is about wine and making people emotional but its double trouble when the wine-o is your boss. I mean, there are social boundaries that have to be observed here. You can never discuss what happens in a wine haze, but you will always be that much more uncomfortable in a meeting with her knowing that her husband cheated on her. Its just a TMI situation that no one really benefits from.
The Silent Supervisor. I don't understand how someone who at work is in control and has no problem delegating and micromanaging, can, in a social situation, be such a nitwit. These are the supervisors that are gregarious, loud, kind of annoying at work. They speak so that everyone can hear them, chew loudly and write sickly sweet emails that are venoumous in closing. Yet as soon as they leave their work comfort zone, they become shy and awkward, not a thing to say that isn't work related. I don't know why, but I find these supervisors sneaky and I don't trust them. I feel like they are observing me, making mental notes for Monday when they are back in their comfort zone, schlepping a bunch of busy work on my desk as punishment for being such a social butterfly. Beware the Silent Supervisor!
The Former Boss. For some reason, there are those who befriend co-workers and continue to socialize with them, even after they are no longer required to do so. This means that you might be at a (rare) work function when your old boss walks in. Or he is already there when you arrive. Either way, this is not pleasant. This can go one of two ways. Either you got along when you worked together and are able to have a pleasant adult conversation about what each has been up to since you last saw each other. Or your d-bag boss screwed you out of vacation, benefits and a salary raise and you would rather stab yourself in the eye with a white hot needle than talk to him. And he is afraid of you. So you spend the event dancing around each other. Or at least he does. Ensuring that you are never in the same room for long. You glare at him and he pretends not to notice you. And then he leaves early because his wife told him to.
But if you do find yourself in a social situation with co-workers watch out for that demon Alcohol. Being around people at work can make you want to drink to take the edge off (I should know). But one drink turns into 5 pretty quickly and then you are a loud, slurring fool. And no one wants that.
So. Have a drink (be social!) but have an out. Always have an out. A dinner with friends. Dinner at the parents. You have to walk your dog. A concert.If you can, have someone start the car for a quick get a way.
If you are aware of the above, there is no reason why you can't go out and socialize with co-workers. But when you are sitting there listening to another work story, don't say that I didn't warn you.