Why don’t you drink?

“Have you ever asked a colleague “why don’t you drink?”, or been asked the question yourself at a work party? You are not alone!

Work parties should be fun, inclusive, build community and strengthen cohesion. Alcohol is often a natural and expected ingredient at parties and social events with work, and most people experience it as something positive.

Nevertheless, over 300,000 say they have dropped out of work parties because of colleagues’ alcohol use, and even more say they have experienced pressure to drink. In addition, 37 per cent responded that it is problematic that colleagues get drunk at work parties. We can do something about this, so that the work party becomes the positive and inclusive experience it is meant to be.

Unconscious pressure to drink
Nobody wants to put pressure on others to drink, yet it is easy to contribute without even realising it. We’ve all experienced it, either asked someone or been asked the question ourselves: “Why don’t you drink? Are you pregnant? You can have one beer, right?” Do you recognise yourself? You might not want to call it direct pressure to drink, but by asking, “don’t you drink?”, you create an expectation that everyone should drink alcohol to be part of the community.

When there is a clear distinction between “us” and “them”, it is easy to feel left out. Because there are many reasons for not drinking alcohol, but whatever the reason is – it is a private matter. You don’t need to explain that. At worst, the person you ask may feel that there is no point in being at the party when you are not drinking. Perhaps you could rather take a tour with yourself about why this curiosity arises? If you recognize yourself and may have contributed to pressure to drink, you can now decide not to ask or comment on why they don’t drink. In this way, you can help ensure that everyone feels included.”

Find more from AKAN Kompetansesenter (Norway, October 2022)

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