AWKWARD! Office Awkwardness and How to React Professionally

Awkward moments are part of life, both in our personal lives and professional world, but handling these situations can be slightly different, especially if you want to keep the respect of your peers around the office or not offend anyone you work with. This time of year with all of the company holiday parties and end of year celebrations, inevitably the opportunity for a social gaffe is greatly increased. The saying preparation is half the battle applies to awkward moments especially, since most blunders result from being thrown off guard or simply not knowing what to say and how to say it.

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation,” Arthur Ashe

Prepare yourself for all the awkward situations that come up at work by thinking about how you will respond first. Here are the 4 most common office awkwardness moments and advice to help you to know just how to react and act most professionally.

A Cash Bonus with a Bonus Of Envy

The most awkward situations at work usually involve the topic of money. With regards to annual bonuses, dispersing equal amounts to everyone, and announcing so, is the only way to completely prevent this from happening at work. If that is not an option, however, the best thing to do is slightly alter the point of inquiry. Without being completely evasive, you could respond to a co-worker asking how much your bonus was by saying, “I was so surprised to even get a bonus” or “whatever the amount it certainly helps this time of year”, a point that no one can deny.

Not So Fun Fundraisers

Co-workers with children often bring their children’s fundraisers to the office, wrapping paper, candy, magazines and charities, which can be not just awkward but presumptuous. The easiest way to get out of participating is by explaining that your child, another family members child, neighbor, or newspaper boy (they still exist) already hit you up. Another way to respond which will likely insure you wont be asked again is by asking about their childs participation in the fundraiser, try to suggest places the child can go to earn money for their fundraiser (i.e. “Have they tried the mall this time of year?” or “What church do you go to?”).

Donations and Charity

Chairty cases are big this time of year and often it makes you feel like a Scrooge if you don’t donate something or some amount to a charitable cause. It’s important to remember that donations are not just good deeds, they are a choice and a personal preference. It’s best to decide in advance where, what and how you will be giving back this year and explain to any requests for donations that you have already given your planned donations this year.

fundraisers at work
Photo:By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Corwin Colbert [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ever Changing Gift Exchanges

Office gift giving and exchanging rituals vary from place to place, its best to know what has been the trend (if you don’t already know) from previous years before giving any gifts at work. It’s usually safe to give out cards or holiday wishes, candy canes or cookies or even something homemade if you’re talented like that. The only way to not offend someone of buying a gift for a specific co-worker is to do so outside of the office.

Hopefully you will now be better prepared to handle the 4 most common awkward situations at work, avoid the office awkwardness this time of year altogether.

Categories: Work Life Balance

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