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Under "Food" or "Going out with co-workers", let's file "Doesn't Drink" as an additional sensitive topic, please.

As a team member who makes a specific choice NOT to drink alchohol, I believe it is none of anyone's business what I do or do not imbibe. I had a co-woker say, "I don't trust sober people." I responded, "I'm not sober, I just don't drink. But, it's interesting that I have to make that distinction to you. Does that change your opinion of me?"

I have also been in a position to vehemently defend a co-worker who had deep personal and medical reasons for not drinking. In the end, I relented and joined the drinking because, "someone from your team has to represent."

In social dinner situations, I have educated myself on a variety facts and preferences realtive to alchohol. I understand the basics of wine and pairing with certain foods. I know certain craft-brew styles and how they change the taste of beer. I even mentally catalog people's preferences so that I can remind them what they liked last time we were at a particular restaurant.

From my perspective, your advice of Sensitive Topics has empowered me, and others I suppose, with responses like:

  • No thank you, and that's that.
  • It's no big deal. Cheers!
  • I have personal reasons, can we change the topic?
  • I would like to ask what you DO, but I don't.