My dad has always said that you can measure a person’s character by whether they will buy a round of drinks. Even while watching hearings to approve a new Supreme Court Justice, he’ll say, “They haven’t asked this guy the only question that matters: ‘Will he buy a round?’”

He says it during presidential elections, city council, county supervisor, and PTA elections. I thought he was joking at first. I thought it was just one of those funny things he says like every time we get out the car he says, “Dismount! Fight on foot!” Over the years I have paid attention to who buys a round and have tried to pull my weight with the bar tab. What I have observed is that he’s right!

There is a certain profile of the person that is happy to buy a round of drinks. Those qualities far outweigh the depth of his/her pocket. The person who offers to foot the tab is not only generous and gracious, but is committed to friendship and has faith that there will be a next time and the favor will be reciprocated. And if there isn’t a chance for reciprocation, that’s fine too. These people are genuine and understand the camaraderie established on a barstool, or a comfy couch. They have a sincere concern for everyone to have a good time and feel welcome. They aren’t so uptight and intense that they never have a good time. It is the ultimate hostessing gesture.

The statement is proven more when you notice the profile of the person who does not buy a round. Some people are just broke—or always broke. Some people are just not very free with money. And others are just not nice. They don’t get that it’s gracious and kind to buy a drink for a few friends. Sometimes they are loners or lack social grace. But usually, they are not teambuilders. Teambuilders buy drinks.

The other side of it is receiving the drink. Receiving the drink does not enter you into a pact that you HAVE to reciprocate. It’s nice if you are able, but it’s not always expected. Don’t feel strange receiving it—just say thank you and toast your hostess or host. Pick-up her drink next time and she will be equally thankful. If you aren’t a teambuilder, then just stay home.

I have a friend with whom I take turns. I buy drinks one night, she the next time we get together. This was her idea and is a great mechanism. It insures that there will be a next time and it all evens out. Take my word for it!

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