We’ve all experienced awkward moments at work, along with that feeling of alarm you get the moment you realize you just said or did something you can’t take back and that you know will elicit a reaction from fellow workers.
You swear you’ll never show your face around the office again. But time heals all wounds, even those caused by extreme humiliation.
How the situation is handled can influence its potential notoriety around the office. A faux pas managed with composure and wit won’t have the legs of one that is met with extreme shock and unrelenting uneasiness. As painful as it may seem at the time, you actually benefit from these awkward moments depending on how you recover.
Here are a few common work-related predicaments and suggestions on how to handle them if they happen to you!
1. You’re delivering a presentation and notice an obvious misspelling up on the screen for all to see.
What can you do? Come clean and confess.
Career coaches and etiquette experts agree that honesty is the best policy. “Confess and admit you’ve made a mistake”. “Don’t try to talk about it too much; you may end up putting your foot in your mouth.” Do your best to correct the blunder and then move on.
2. You’re in a meeting with the president of the company and other high ranking executives. You and everyone around you are distracted by the pangs of hunger emanating from your stomach.
What can you do? Apply humor.
Nothing diffuses a tense or embarrassing situation like a little quick thinking humor: “I guess after this meeting I’ll have to run to the cafeteria and have lunch.”
3. You meant to forward the racy e-mail to your friend. You didn’t realize your co-worker was accidentally added to the distribution list.
What can you do? Assign blame.
You could always blame it on technical difficulties, but experts suggest that no matter what caused the slip-up, you should immediately confess and apologize for the mishap. And hopefully you’ve learned not to e-mail any message or picture that you wouldn’t want to be seen by all.
4. Your boss overhears you making disparaging remarks about him/her to a co-worker.
What can you do? Apologize and start a dialogue.
Regardless if what you said about your boss is true, you must take the high road and own up to your behavior and then apologize for him finding out that way. This situation, however, could signal a chance to have an open discussion about why you find it difficult to work with him. It may end on a positive note if you are able to air your grievances in a professional way.
5. You ended a call and, after assuming the individual has hung up, you begin complaining aloud about the other person… only the call was never really terminated and the individual hears everything you say.
What can you do? Try to make amends.
With any luck, you realize the person is still on the line before you tear into them too much. But all you can do is stand by your remarks, but redeliver them with a softer touch. For instance, while you might have said: ‘Wasn’t that the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard?’ You can soften it with: ‘I was thinking we should revisit your marketing idea because I really don’t think it’s going to work.’