Are you a recipient of body odour or breath as fresh as a rotten egg? Overheard a conversation that you wish you hadn’t? Here’s how to deal with those cringe worthy moments and keep a positive vibe at work.

With the number of hours that we punch out at work, awkward moments are bound to happen from time to time. But, with those that affect our reputation or work performance, sometimes it is not as easy as simply just forgetting about it.

Learning how to deal with awkward moments is just like riding a bike. You might not be so great at first, but gain some confidence and you will master it like a champ – with dignity and tact in tow.

So, for sufferers of biting the tongue, it is time to drop your training wheels and tackle an awkward work situation head on. As an example, following are three common awkward workplace scenarios and how to best deal with those.


1. You witness someone else getting the credit for your blood and sweat

You bust your butt as part of the team to smash deadline, excel budget predictions, and score a major win, only to see your colleague get the congratulatory pat on the back… say what! Don’t fret, there is a way to get your recognition too.

You can approach this situation two ways:

  • The first: speak up. In the moment you are neglected, try saying something like, “I really enjoyed the comradery and the challenge of this task when we worked on it together”. Make it clear that you were part of the project too.
  • The second: if you are more introvert than you thought and don’t like public attention, find another way to talk to your manager afterwards. Explain that you were really proud of the achievement and were happy to be involved in the project with your colleague. This should switch the light bulb on and encourage acknowledgment from the other end.

Whichever method you chose, do it with good intentions and light-heartedly. This proves you are proud of your role and the ownership that goes with it.


2. You receive credit for someone else’s work

From the top of the food chain, it can get tough keeping tabs on the responsibility of everyone involved in a major project. And, it gets particularly tricky if someone covers a task which is usually your responsibility. Collaboration and job sharing is not uncommon these days too. It’s no wonder the bigwigs get it wrong sometimes.

So, when the boss arrives announced at your desk to praise you for the awesome job that Joe Bloe did, what is one to do? Take the credit and run, or fess up that Joe covered your butt (yep, we all have bad days) and re-direct the praise?

No one likes a credit snatcher. It’s not good Karma. The right thing to do is re-direct the applause to where it is deserved. Try saying something like, “Thank you for the credit, but it was Joe who took on that challenge this time around. I agree – he did a fantastic job at executing it”.

This will give you props for being a team player and show you are secure (and mature) enough to dish out a compliment.


3. Your co-worker makes a skunk smell like a daisy

Body odour is part of life. However, if you find your co-worker is curling up your nostrils it could be time to let them know. The chance is they are probably not aware of it themselves. This also applies to someone who baths in fragrance rather than spritzes.

Chose your time wisely and make the person gently aware you can smell their BO (or over-used perfume). Don’t do this in front of other people as that will only make them embarrassed and the situation                                                                more awkward.

If you are not on a first-name basis with this person, perhaps you can find a mutual friend who is closer and would be more suited to having a chat with them.

In a nutshell

Whatever the scenario, tactfulness and courtesy go a long way. If the situation at hand is too infuriating to handle, take a break and come back to it once you have a moment to cool down.

Need some workplace de-stressing tips? Check out our recent blog:

Is a colleague eating your lunch, passing wind at your office door, or are they not backward with their political remarks? What other awkward situations have you handled at work? Please leave us a comment – how do you ease the situation?

Alicia Sumich – Group Manager

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