In the June 6, 2011 edition of Bloomsberg Businessweek, there was yet another “Business and Drinking” related article in the Etc. section of the magazine that caught my eye. The title of this article is “The Slosh Pit”, and it deals with co-worker behavior at an after work happy hour. After observing the behavior and body language of 100 people that attended happy hours in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, a panel of experts reviewed the observations and came up with ten distinct happy hour behavior categories. The panel of experts included George Wendt (Norm from Cheers), David Givens (author of Your Body at Work), Joe Navarro (author of What Every Body Is Saying), Patti Wood (co-author of Paid to Speak), and Patrick Lydon (bartender at Old Town Bar in NYC). Here is what they came up with:
- Bar Belly-Uppers (12% of people observed): Guys sitting elbow to elbow at the bar, glued to a game “may not think they’re interacting, but they feel they’re on the same team,” says Givens. Adds Navarro: “Their bodies are echoing each other in perfect synchrony as friends.” Wood: “Guys touch side to side. It’s relaxed camaraderie,” especially if they’ve been in battle mode at work.
- Bro-Tastic Touchers (15%): Men who give copious high-fives, backslaps, and the occasional fist bump are engaging in “a dominance display,” says Navarro. “It’s intended to get them noticed—to show who’s the biggest silver?back ape.” Adds Wood: “This is acceptable touching for heterosexual men.” Wendt: “These are stages of relaxation.”
- Nervous Munchers (3%): Women who nibble minutely on nachos are “starving but trying to look feminine,” Wood says. “If she’s doing something repetitively, like creasing her oyster crackers packet, it means she needs to control the situation.” Givens says, “Crunching snack food harkens back to primates eating nuts and berries.”
- Impromptu Boogiers (13%): Sudden, brief eruptions of dancing to old Wham! or Guns N’ Roses songs expresses “joy bubbling up without sanctions,” Wood says. Givens says people are “seeking attention by moving,” while Navarro notes, “smooth movements are psychologically attractive.” Lydon: “They’re either ready to go home with somebody or they’re drunk. Or both.”
- Device Bonders (8%): Intense, fetishistic sharing of photos, texts, or new apps on each other’s handhelds is “bonding, sharing your artifacts,” Givens says. Wood: “Sharing photos [on a smartphone] has replaced sharing stories. People get physically intimate, shoulder to shoulder. When you hand over your device, you’re sharing a part of yourself.”
- Disrobers (6%): “You’re saying, ‘I can relax and don’t have to be alpha anymore,’?” says Woods of the men who untuck their shirts and women who take off their heels and jackets at the bar. “It’s a display of freedom and unconventionality,” says Navarro. Givens: “It’s the new taking off your tie.” Lydon: “They’re one step closer to going home together.”
- David Hasselhoffs (4%): “They’ve had one too many,” Lydon says of people who stumble, slur, weave across the bar, hang on to colleagues for dear life, or spend 15 minutes trying to unlock a bathroom stall with no lock. Navarro says: “Some people have to self-medicate. Bars are a safe place for this behavior.” Notes Wood: “You can always just say, ‘I was sooo drunk.’?” Wendt: “I don’t judge.”
- Sloppy Power Huggers (17%): “You don’t have to be as PC as at the office,” says Wood of cocktailing colleagues who engage in excessive, extravagant hugs and kisses and rejoice in simply being co-workers. “You’re out of the office but with your tribe,” says Navarro. Wendt adds: “I guess that’s alcohol doing its thing.”
- Attention Lusters (19%): Women who flip their hair and bob their legs “are flirting,” says Navarro. “Bouncing feet and dangling shoes mean she’s really into you.” Lydon agrees: “She’s hoping someone pays her some attention.” Givens has a different take: “A bobbing foot could mean some social anxiety.”
- Solo Drinkers (2%): “They’re alone in a crowd, finding comfort in a noisy environment,” says Navarro of people who idle to the side as their co-workers have a rip-roaring good time. Givens thinks, “You’re secondhand socializing, like [inhaling] secondhand smoke.” Says Wendt: “I try to fly under the radar, but someone always yells out: ‘Norm!’”
If I had to classify myself, I would say that I am equal parts “Bar Belly-Upper” and “Device Bonder” (a recent phenomenon since I discovered the joy of smartphones), but if I don’t like the company, then I can also qualify as a “Solo Drinker”.
How about you? What would someone say about your body language when you’re out with co-workers? We want to know!
Categories: Booze Banter