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For a variety of reasons I stopped drinking a few years back. Two of my college friends became terrible alcoholics and lost multiple jobs- and that's just one reason. Even before then I drove everyone everywhere so I rarely if ever drank outside my house. Many years later I don't really want to go there at all.

I find that every few months I run into a client who wants to go out and have a drink or I'm at a bar at a conference where this becomes an issue.
9 times out of 10 a coke or tonic water or something that could pass for a cocktail is fine, but with some regularity now, every few months there's one or two people who will challenge me on that with an "everyone's having a drink here" or "you're staying in this hotel, you aren't driving." I understand that usually the person saying this has some psychological issue related to drinking that is triggered by someone not drinking. Of course I have no problem going to bars, but I really don't want to drink. It's to the point that if the people I'm with appear like they're too boisterous I will pick up that coke at the bar before walking over to their table so they don't question my order.

My concern is trying to appear as enough of a "regular guy" to make lasting business contacts. Anyone have pat answers to these kinds of comments?
 

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Sure, just ignore them. Or get a tonic and lime and slur a word every so often ;)

Besides, many executives I'm with or have seen rarely drink in public. There's nothing wrong with wanting to ensure control.

-spence
 

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I can only tell you that out here, in Los Angeles in the entertainment industry, things have changed dramatically over the last 5 years. It is now extremely rare to see an executive drinking on a business meeting even if people are meeting "for drinks." At the big parties, people may have one drink, but unless they are movie stars with drivers, nobody is getting buzzed. At the Golden Globes this year, there were many stars drinking but only one person (an executive) did I see drunk. He was treated as a pariah, spoken to by his boss (at the party) and royally ashamed the next day. Granted people have to drive here, and movie people are under the microscope, but I too remember when not drinking raised more than a few questions and challenges. That has changed completely here and may do so where you lie as well.
 

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As others have noted, public perception and pressure to drink have changed dramtically over the past ~10 years.

Tonic is generally a good stand in for booze and will fool most people.

In terms of excuses, the list is endless.

If you work out, you can simply note that drinking interferes with your training. Or with your steroids.

Maybe you just want to be fresh for when the call girls arrive?

Maybe a couple of drinks makes it tough for you to sleep well (after all, that's why you have the call girls) and you need to be ready for the big presentation/golf tournament/etc tomorrow?

Maybe you're trying a "clense" (downside is you'll have to skip coffee to sell this one).

Maybe you just note that after watching two friends destroyed by booze, you don't drink?
 

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I don't drink either, and I simply tell people that "I decided it is not a healthy habit for me". I never had any problems, but really it lost it's appeal as soon as I got out of the house and went off to college (backwards, I know).

Reminds me of a funny story. I was dating a girl and we went to a bar. She had a beer, I had nothing as we weren't going to be there for long anyway. She made some comment that it felt weird to be drinking alone, and I said 'You're not alone, I'm right here baby!' :icon_smile:
 

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This is a really slippery issue in the business context. Play the issue one way and you may give an incorrect signal that you're a recovering alcoholic or an admittedly sloppy drunk. Play it the other way and you run the risk of coming off like a prude or like a judgmental jerk. Difficult straits to navigate indeed.

I do enjoy a good cocktail or glass of wine at home or in a purely social situation, however I tend to avoid liquor in business situations, even when those are predominately social events. Notwithstanding carrying around about 200 lbs on my frame, I am a bit of a lightweight when it comes to booze. After a cocktail or a glass of wine I can certainly start to feel some effects. It's just enough to take me off my "A" game and I never want to put myself in a situation where I'm anything less than 100% when interacting with business contacts. Accordingly, I tend to go with sparkling water and lime or a club soda with a splash of Rose's Lime Juice. On those few occasions where I've been questioned about my choice I will generally say something along the lines of "you know, I like a nice cocktail every now and again but tonight I think I'm going to stick with the soft stuff." I have yet to get any pushback from that remark. You are communicating your preference not to consume alcohol without making a statement about your inquisitor's choice and you also dispose of any notion that your choice not to drink is borne of any condition other than a choice not to drink at that time.
 

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For a variety of reasons I stopped drinking a few years back. Two of my college friends became terrible alcoholics and lost multiple jobs- and that's just one reason. Even before then I drove everyone everywhere so I rarely if ever drank outside my house.

My concern is trying to appear as enough of a "regular guy" to make lasting business contacts. Anyone have pat answers to these kinds of comments?
There were a handful of times in my life I drank between 16-18. Decades ago.
Those fazes lasted 3-4 months each. I didn't drink before 16 and 18 was the last time.
Before I was the legal drinking age I was done. It was old quickly. I new how to have fun and socialize before I touched alcohol and I knew how to have fun and socialize after I quit at 18.
I was the good guy with my head on straight. The one who also drove drunk friends around.

At 21 I was done babysitting and ditched my old friends.
For many years through my teens I was known as the one who didn't drink.
I guess I was confident enough that I didn't have to be the regular guy.
To me the regular guy had no self control, average, always needing to fit in and compromised his values or lack of for the sake to fit in.

When asked in the past why I didn't drink I said I wasn't interested or cited religious reasons. Both were true.
It's been many years since I've been asked. But the answer would be the same.

If you have to carry something around in social gatherings that looks like alcohol so others think you're a drinker you already are a regular guy.
Your trying to fit in, to appear normal because your aren't sure others will like your ability to say no.
You're trying to please the wrong people. If they make you feel uncomfortable because they can't accept your choice that's something you'll have to continue to face.
Or you can mentally grow up and have the attitude that
"this is my decision to not drink.
I'm not here to please you by appearing that I'm trying to imitate you.
If you don't like my decision that's your problem not mine."


Most aldults can handle your decision.
If my partying friends from highschool could handle my decision to say no
I'm pretty sure you'll find most adults will too. Especially in a business environment.
Just my 2 cents.

Let me add, my wife never drink when she went to business dinners.
She stopped drinking at 21 or 22.
She was asked why she didn't drink. Same reason as mine.
I mention that because she was very successful in the corporate world. And is very well known around the country in the industry she was in.
She also made lasting business contacts that helped her when she started her consulting business which is also very successful.

People respect people that stand on their principles and stick to their values.
If you say one thing and do another or appear to do another you seem wishy washy.
Again my 2 cents.
 

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The ONLY way I am able to tolerate a business meeting after hours is by having a few drinks in me. Otherwise, most executives I deal with are utterly unbearable.

My mentor in the business world would have never given me the time of day if I didn't prove myself as a worthy drinking buddy, and many of my most advantageous and long term relationships have been cemented over nights of drinking and smoking cigars.

But to each his own I suppose.
 

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I can see how you can get away with not drinking in America. We don't think less of people really for giving up their vices. In fact, that same guy that gives you crap for not drinking, may secretly want to give it up. Who knows?

In Asia though, you wouldn't ever make it as a businessman. If you have Asian clients, it makes it much harder to get a deal done if you don't drink at all. They are so staunch in the boardroom, that most deals don't happen there. They get friendly after a few months, and the deal will happen when they want you to go out for dinner, lots of drinking, and probably karaoke. Strange, but I've found that this is how Asian guys seem to do business. Korean and Japanese in particular.

I guess it all depends on who you do business with and where.
 

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Response: Sorry I'm on medication, can't right now.
And have the client wonder how much longer you'll be alive? Not a good plan. I'd be much more worried about putting my trust in someone medicated than in the hands of a teetotaler ;)

Maybe this is very American of me, but just the straight-forward "I'll have a club soda" to the waiter is fine - I mean, why even explain that you don't drink? If for some reason the client mentions it, then "I don't drink" should suffice in concluding that conversation so that business can commence.

DH
 

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drinking

I understand. Your financial condition may rely on the associations you make and keep in your business environment. Right or wrong, you do not want to put off someone who contributes to your financial condition. There is no perfect key that fits all doors in this scenario. I think the best approach is to try and blend in with a drink you like (non-alcohol), whether its coffee, tea, club soda, coke, whatever... and just remain a polite gentleman. If asked, politely indicate it is your drink of choice. Most will respect you, and get on with the conversation. Personally, I like a drink now and then, but I respect those who don't, as long as they respect those who do. Good luck gents!
 

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drinking

After reading some of the other comments, I will have to agree that it does depend on who you are dealing with. There lies the dilemma. You can only be yourself; Being someone else won't last long, and it isn't much of a way to live. I will have to agree, that Asians prefer a drinking environment to do business. Again, good luck.
 

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Agree, but my father pulled it off, he sticks to his principal, people do eventually respect that.

P.S. I am from Taiwan, and drinking after work culture, thought not as servere as Japan, is definitel there.

I can see how you can get away with not drinking in America. We don't think less of people really for giving up their vices. In fact, that same guy that gives you crap for not drinking, may secretly want to give it up. Who knows?

In Asia though, you wouldn't ever make it as a businessman. If you have Asian clients, it makes it much harder to get a deal done if you don't drink at all. They are so staunch in the boardroom, that most deals don't happen there. They get friendly after a few months, and the deal will happen when they want you to go out for dinner, lots of drinking, and probably karaoke. Strange, but I've found that this is how Asian guys seem to do business. Korean and Japanese in particular.

I guess it all depends on who you do business with and where.
 

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Don't try to fool them with another drink. Just tell them you stopped drinking. You can even tell a white lie that you're a recovered alcoholic. That definitely stops the whining when my mother says it (in her case, it is true).
 

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i hear that the only polite way to turn down a drink offer made by someone in russia is to claim you're on antibiotics. if it works on a russian, it probably works on most other people. haha.
That may be true, but I think a Korean person would be apt to ask you what medication you're taking haha.
 

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For a variety of reasons I stopped drinking a few years back. Two of my college friends became terrible alcoholics and lost multiple jobs- and that's just one reason. Even before then I drove everyone everywhere so I rarely if ever drank outside my house. Many years later I don't really want to go there at all.

I find that every few months I run into a client who wants to go out and have a drink or I'm at a bar at a conference where this becomes an issue.
9 times out of 10 a coke or tonic water or something that could pass for a cocktail is fine, but with some regularity now, every few months there's one or two people who will challenge me on that with an "everyone's having a drink here" or "you're staying in this hotel, you aren't driving." I understand that usually the person saying this has some psychological issue related to drinking that is triggered by someone not drinking. Of course I have no problem going to bars, but I really don't want to drink. It's to the point that if the people I'm with appear like they're too boisterous I will pick up that coke at the bar before walking over to their table so they don't question my order.

My concern is trying to appear as enough of a "regular guy" to make lasting business contacts. Anyone have pat answers to these kinds of comments?
Sounds like you're already doing a great job! If in 9 out of 10 times (that's an A- I think) no one is having a problem with what you're not doing then that's really good. The simple reply "I don't drink" should be quite enough in this day and age (it certainly is in California, as another poster has noted.) For that pesky 10% there seem to be a lot of good suggestions so far. I can add a few answers added by non-drinkers when the "I don't drink" isn't deemed sufficient by the terminally rude. I've heard these or variations and they seemed to go over fine.

"I'm Mormon/Muslim/Baptist/Quaker/Jain/etc...."
"I'm watching my weight." (All those calories in alcohol.)
"I have to be up early in the morning."
"If my wife/husband smells liquor on my breath I won't get any tonight."
"I hate waking up in unfriendly parallel universes -- you know the ones where everything looks the same except there is this stranger next to you in bed?"
"I signed an organ donor card and I have to keep my liver pristine."
"My husband/wife does enough for both of us."
"I promised my dying father/mother/grandmother/grandfather I'd never take a drink and for x years I've kept that vow."

And my recent favorite:

"Someone gave me a Blue Raspberry-Cherry Sour Apple Wheatgrass Martini and I got so sick I've not been able to touch the stuff since."
 
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