You Can’t Do This Anymore

There was a time when being modestly drunk at a business event was acceptable, even smiled upon. That’s no longer true.

Business culture has changed radically in the USA over the last 30 years. As a general rule it has become more conservative. In some ways this is a good thing But it also means that there is less tolerance for drinking-assisted faux pas.

Recently I attended a cocktail party that took place after a business meeting in our resort in Nicaragua. The setting was beautiful. The event was casual. Good music. Good food. And lots of alcohol.

A young man I’m fond of was there. He’s an up-and-comer with a promising career. He is usually poised, articulate, and diplomatic. I’ve proudly watched him navigate his way through turbulent business situations. But that night he was inebriated. I mean seriously drunk, slouching and slurring. His behavior was noticeable and it embarrassed me.

I used to drink at business events. And there were times when I was as bad as or worse than he was. I would drink because I believed it would help me “loosen up” and be more sociable. It may have done that. But too often it resulted in stupid and/or inappropriate behavior. And when I recall, however vaguely, those moments, I am still ashamed.

Perhaps it is because those memories haunt me that I wanted to pull him aside and talk to him. I wanted him to understand how his behavior diminished him. I wanted to explain how easily his ability to charm when he’s sober can be negated by his capacity to offend when he is not. I wanted to tell him that if he continues his drinking, it will destabilize his business relationships and abbreviate or damage his career.

Of course you can’t tell someone who’s been drinking that they’re drinking too much. You can’t really say anything to them.

The best you can do is post a brief essay about them on your website and hope they see it.