I usually refuse my co-workers' offers to "have a few drinks" at a show. How can I avoid looking standoffish?
Often, booth staffers need some time together off the floor just to relax, share some laughs, process what they learned that day, discuss strategies, and ready themselves for the next day in the trenches. Meeting for a drink or two is often the medium over which co-workers bond and connect with each other.
But whether your beverage of choice is a smoothie or a screwdriver, when you are invited to a get-together after a long day on the show floor, you should recognize it as your fellow staffers' earnest attempts to make you feel like part of the group. Thus, while you may not always want to accept their offers, it's good to do so every so often to avoid unintentionally giving them the cold shoulder.
That said, there is a way you can accept an invitation from your co-workers – but on your terms. The next time they invite you out, you might say something along the lines of "Thanks for including me. I have some things I need to get done tonight, but I'd love to go for a little while. How about I join you for one drink before I go back to my room?" That way, you can reciprocate their courtesy by accepting their welcoming gesture but also give yourself a clearly stated exit when you feel comfortable doing so. Take this approach, and you should find that you don't necessarily have to hoist several rounds of drinks with your co-workers to lift everyone's spirits.
, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org