Expert's Advice on What to Say to a Colleague Who Drinks Too Much

Apr 19, 2001, 01:00 ET from Caron Foundation

    WERNERSVILLE, Pa., April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- It can be a painful experience
 to watch a friend or business associate's career falter because of too many
 drinks at a business function or the local pub.
     You don't have to stand by and watch it happen; you may be able to steer a
 colleague away from career suicide -- or worse, says Todd Whitmer, senior
 executive officer of the Caron Foundation, a nationally recognized nonprofit
 addiction treatment center.  See http://www.caron.org (or call 800-678-2332).
     "Work is one of the last places a drinking problem will surface," says
 Whitmer.  "But friends and co-workers are likely to know someone is having a
 problem with alcohol before the boss does."
     Whitmer suggests these steps:
 
     -- If your friend could endanger himself, intervene.  Take the car keys,
 call a cab, or look him in the eye and ask him to leave with you.
     -- Otherwise, wait until he's sober before you try talking to him.  Be
 specific about what you observed, without accusing.  For example, instead of
 "You were really drunk last night," try "I felt embarrassed about the joke you
 told last night.  You don't ordinarily talk like that unless you're drinking."
 "Although he may argue, he can't deny your feelings," says Whitmer.
     -- Express your concern for your colleague and offer to provide feedback
 when you see the problem surfacing.  Talk to her before the next company
 gathering, and let her know you will signal when you sense inappropriate
 behavior coming on.  For example, "The last time all the managers went out for
 a drink after the strategic planning meeting, I was afraid, after the third
 drink, that your remarks about the boss were going to get you into trouble.
 I'm feeling some anxiety about tonight's business dinner.  If I sense you're
 getting into dangerous territory, I'm going to give you that feedback."
     -- Avoid the role of counselor.  You can certainly show compassion and
 express your concern, but don't hesitate to say, "I'm not in a position to
 counsel you about what's going on."  If your company has an employee
 assistance plan, steer her in that direction.  If that resource is
 unavailable, suggest contacting an alcoholism information and treatment
 center.
 
 

SOURCE Caron Foundation
    WERNERSVILLE, Pa., April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- It can be a painful experience
 to watch a friend or business associate's career falter because of too many
 drinks at a business function or the local pub.
     You don't have to stand by and watch it happen; you may be able to steer a
 colleague away from career suicide -- or worse, says Todd Whitmer, senior
 executive officer of the Caron Foundation, a nationally recognized nonprofit
 addiction treatment center.  See http://www.caron.org (or call 800-678-2332).
     "Work is one of the last places a drinking problem will surface," says
 Whitmer.  "But friends and co-workers are likely to know someone is having a
 problem with alcohol before the boss does."
     Whitmer suggests these steps:
 
     -- If your friend could endanger himself, intervene.  Take the car keys,
 call a cab, or look him in the eye and ask him to leave with you.
     -- Otherwise, wait until he's sober before you try talking to him.  Be
 specific about what you observed, without accusing.  For example, instead of
 "You were really drunk last night," try "I felt embarrassed about the joke you
 told last night.  You don't ordinarily talk like that unless you're drinking."
 "Although he may argue, he can't deny your feelings," says Whitmer.
     -- Express your concern for your colleague and offer to provide feedback
 when you see the problem surfacing.  Talk to her before the next company
 gathering, and let her know you will signal when you sense inappropriate
 behavior coming on.  For example, "The last time all the managers went out for
 a drink after the strategic planning meeting, I was afraid, after the third
 drink, that your remarks about the boss were going to get you into trouble.
 I'm feeling some anxiety about tonight's business dinner.  If I sense you're
 getting into dangerous territory, I'm going to give you that feedback."
     -- Avoid the role of counselor.  You can certainly show compassion and
 express your concern, but don't hesitate to say, "I'm not in a position to
 counsel you about what's going on."  If your company has an employee
 assistance plan, steer her in that direction.  If that resource is
 unavailable, suggest contacting an alcoholism information and treatment
 center.
 
 SOURCE  Caron Foundation