Awkward Work Situations

awkward work situations

Work can be a hotbed for awkward situations. We’ve all fallen victim to them, but more often than not they make us a better person (in that we’re better at avoiding them at all costs). If you still find yourself unsure of how to deal with your colleagues however, then read ahead, and we’ll guide you through the awkwardness that awaits.

Alone in the elevator

You think you’ve escaped the awkward confines of the office… only to realise that your arch-nemesis/former lover/person you mildly dislike has joined you in the elevator. What do you do? Do you make a feeble attempt at conversation, or do you avoid eye contact at all costs?

Option 1: Attempt a swift escape by getting off as soon as possible. They might know you have absolutely no reason to be on the 11th floor, but that’s okay; you can leave this awkward revelation for another time.

Option 2: Say hello and hope the conversation ends there. If it doesn’t, talk about the weather… hopefully it will be especially erratic that day.

Option 3: Ignore them. Pretend to text on your phone even though you have no service.

Not listening in a meeting

Either you’ve had a late night or this meeting is particularly boring. Whatever the case may be, you’ve zoned out, and now they’re asking you a question that you either didn’t hear or don’t understand. Luckily you can style this out.

Option 1: Repeat the question back at them. They’ll either think you’re mulling it over or that you’re looking for their perspective on the matter.

Option 2: Nod and smile.

Option 3: Give a completely unrelated answer. They’ll be too confused to press you further.

You forgot a colleague’s name

If there’s a new person on your team or someone in another department who you seldom speak to, it’s understandable that their name will slip your mind. Instead of asking them outright or playing the guessing game, you can-

Option 1: Take them to Starbucks.

Option 2: Ask to look at their ID for ‘security’ reasons.

Option 3: Never speak to them again.

Passing someone in the hallway

You’re walking down a hallway that seems to go on forever, and you’re coming up quickly on someone you know. At what point do you look up and acknowledge their existence?

Option 1: Very early on. Maintain eye contact throughout, and as you pass them, look back.

Option 2: Wait until the last possible moment and then snap your head up.

Option 3: Speed up the ordeal by running past them.

Smelly food in the office

Eventually someone’s going to bring in a curry… and they’re going to go one step further, and eat it at their desk. This could be a huge problem for various reasons. You might hate delicious smelling things, find this a distraction as you’re currently dieting, or fear it unprofessional in the occasion you have a client visiting the office. How do you set this food-loving hooligan straight?!

Option 1: Febreze their food.

Option 2: Ask very loudly and pointedly ‘what is that smell?!’

Option 3: Glare over your monitor in their general direction.

Having an inappropriate crush

You’ve finally developed a crush on someone you work with, and every time he or she is around you, you inevitably turn red. They now think you’re a very odd colour, plus you’ve gotten no further with them. How can you take this from no-man-ce to romance?!

Option 1: Spice up your wardrobe.

Option 2: Remind yourself that there’s such a thing as ‘work goggles’ and that you will probably regret this, as you regret most things in your life.

Option 3: Write them anonymous love letters.

We know this advice is dubious at best. And we actually suggest that you not follow it. However if you want some real (hopefully more helpful) careers advice that will give you a professional edge, then go here.

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