Let’s face it, we are at work for a huge amount of time, so it’s inevitable that at some point you’ll have found yourself in an awkward situation in the workplace.

It might be you’ve e-mailed the wrong colleague, been caught saying something about someone, or (as I had to once) tell a colleague they have a slightly pungent odour! Here’s our tips of dealing with an awkward situation in the workplace.

  • Sending an e-mail / text to the wrong person – If you’ve said something insulting then apologise! Don’t try and backtrack, because it will only make the situation worse. By holding your hands up, it will diffuse the situation and it might even give you a chance to put things right with that colleague and move forward!
  • Office gossip – if you find yourself sat with colleagues who are indulging in a good old office gossip and you don’t feel comfortable with the situation, then remove yourself from it. If you feel awkward just getting up and walking off, you can always pretend you have a phone call to take or make.
  • Pungent odours – It might be that a colleague wears too much scent, or maybe it’s their natural odour that’s a problem, but either way the smell is causing you issues. If it’s someone you’re close to and you feel able to say something, then do, they’d probably appreciate it coming from a friend. If it’s not something you feel able to deal with, then speak to your boss and let them deal with it
  • Forgetting someone’s name – The best way of dealing with this, is to make a joke out of it at your expense “I can’t even remember my own name” It’s far better to be honest than to try and style it out! You’ll only end up digging yourself a bigger hole!
  • Something in the teeth – If you notice a colleague has something stuck in their teeth, then tell them! You’d want to know if it was you. This advice can also be applied to toilet paper stuck on a shoe or someone’s skirt tucked in their knickers!
  • Bad breath – If a colleague has bad breath, then you could try offering them a mint, or even saying something along the lines of “if I ever had bad breath, I’d want someone to tell me, so I hope you don’t mind, me telling you the same”
  • Loud phone voice – I used to work with a woman who indulged in really loud phone calls to her son, which always seemed to end up with them having a row. The conversations were loud and normally involved swear words…… not ideal if you’re trying to speak to a client. I simply asked her if she could take the calls out the office as they were distracting and unprofessional. She did.

Awkward situations are going to present themselves throughout your working life, but on the whole, the best way to deal with them is with honesty and tact! Keep in your mind how you’d like to be treated.


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