By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

The workplace is one of those places where alcohol doesn’t tend to mix well, no matter what your drink of choice is. However, participating in drinking culture can certainly be a way to increase comradery and social bonds among employees, and can be relatively harmless as long as some couth is left intact. As a career coach, I often view this aspect of a job on a case-by-case basis.

Whether you are part of a 100 person workforce or part of a small team, the risks of drinking with your co-workers, or even your boss, can vary, so here are some tips you can keep in mind before you get too tipsy.

  • Keep it light. While it may be fun to bond over workplace gripes or even float some new ideas, the key to drinking with people from the office is to keep it minimal. A study from Niznik Behavioral Health found that two drinks max is the best ratio to remember, and sticking to beer and wine is your safest bet.
  • Don’t reject an invitation. If you don’t enjoy drinking, but want to form better relationships with your co-workers, or even your boss, accepting an invitation out for drinks may be a golden opportunity. The same survey of over 1,000 employees found that 24% thought that drinking with your boss would lead to better job opportunities. You can always order a soda while you’re out since the real advantage of going out isn’t necessarily the drink, but the opportunity to discuss ideas outside of work.
  • Don’t feel too pressured. As mentioned above, going out for drinks with co-workers can be an excellent chance to bond if you keep it within reason. However, if you’re new to the job or just don’t feel comfortable mixing drinks with work, you may go out because you feel like you have to. The Niznik Behavioral Health study found that one in five employees feel pressure to drink if their boss is drinking, and you should never feel pressured in a social setting. You can politely say no or offer an alternative option that allows you to get together without alcohol.
  • Make the effort to bond. If you’re spending 40 hours a week with your co-workers, it may be extremely beneficial to take the opportunity to bond with them outside of the workplace. Forty-nine percent of employees found that going out for drinks can improve workplace relationships, so if you’re feeling like your relationships could use some work, sharing a drink after a long day may be a viable option.

Mixing drinks with work can certainly have an effect on your career, and it’s up to you to determine if it will be positive or negative. Just remember, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and while you might not be on the clock anymore, you will be tomorrow morning. You don’t want to get into uncomfortable situations that could severely impact your career, but these scenarios can also boost your relationships with your boss or co-workers. Keep it all within reason, and hopefully, these tips will help strengthen your workplace bond and not add more headaches to your life!

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  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.