DEAR ABBY: In response to "Desperately Needing Advice in Manhattan" (Nov. 29), whose business associate advised her it is necessary to drink in order to make business deals, I think you missed the mark in your reply.
Much as we say it ain't so, it's still a man's world, and if she wants to close deals, she needs to "play the game." Her colleague is right. Most business deals are closed in the bar or on the golf course, so learn the game to stay in it. Instead of fruit juice, she should head to the bar and get carbonated water. It looks like a vodka tonic, and it will appear she's having a drink along with everyone else.
As more women enter the work force, these rules will change. But it takes time, and we must make changes "from within." -- GAME ON! LIVERMORE, CALIF.
DEAR GAME ON!: Your suggestion is what "Desperately Needing Advice" is already trying to do. But her colleague is telling her she must drink alcohol to fit in, and pointing out her teetotaling during business dinners.
I would never advise anyone, male or female, to drink alcohol if the person was uncomfortable doing so. Nor should it be necessary to be stealthy about staying sober. Too many slips of the tongue can occur if a person has inadvertently had one sip too many of that which is fermented. I'm reminded of the time I was having dinner with my brother, whom I proceeded to address by my first husband's name 12 years after our divorce. (Need I say more?) Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I loved your reply to the businesswoman who asked if she had to drink in order to make business deals. You advised that her so-called "best friend" was probably trying to feel better about his own drinking by pushing her to do it.
I am in my mid-40s, confident and attractive. Like her, I rarely drink. I'd like her to know, firsthand, that in all my years in business, both as an employee and now that I am self-employed and very successful, my not drinking has never been a problem nor has it adversely affected my relationship with my clients. -- COLD SOBER AND HAPPY IN HAWAII
DEAR ABBY: I have two rules for my business life. First, keep your personal life separate from your business life, and second, never, ever drink with business associates. My father gave me this advice after college, and it has served me well.
I have witnessed, on several occasions, my peers and managers drink at business functions. They lose inhibitions and make horrible decisions that follow them throughout their careers.
Only once was I ever affected by this decision. I was passed over for a raise and promotion because I wouldn't go out and drink with "the boys." My solution? I found a better job with a different company.
I have been very successful with this company, holding various management positions. When I'm out at lunch or dinner, I usually order water with lemon. That I have chosen not to drink has never been an issue. If anything, it has given me an advantage. "Desperately" should be wary of her so-called "friend." His advice could lead to trouble in her career. -- SUCCESSFUL NON-DRINKER IN HOUSTON
DEAR ABBY: I agree with your advice. Most people who are uncomfortable about being around non-drinkers are usually uncomfortable about themselves and their own drinking. Tell that gal that if her "friend" points out that she's not drinking, she should tell him to knock it off and shut up! Then smile and take a sip of her fruit juice. It will embarrass him as much as he's attempting to embarrass her. -- SUSAN IN DECATUR, ILL.