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Stuck in an Awkward Office Situation? Here’s How to Get Out 


How often have you been caught in the middle of awkward office situations and not knowing what to do about it? As much as we try to avoid it, awkward situations happen. For example, that one time you encountered a guy in the office with poor social manners or a lady co-worker who broadcasts her explicit weekend getaway. Or worse, you get caught between your bosses when they are having an argument - just like a kid watching their parents argue. There is no fun in being caught in awkward situations. Even if you try to make an excuse, one wrong move could make the situation worse. 

Lucky you if you have never encountered such an inconvenient moment. But what if it happens someday? The following tips can help you learn how to get out of an unwanted situation in the workplace: 

1. You’re stuck with a talker that always makes you yawn

It is nobody’s fault that you have different interests from your coworkers in the department. But it sure is a pain in the arse to be stuck in a long work-unrelated discussion that you are not interested in and you cannot pretend to like it. 

How to get out? Simply make a polite excuse and say “It’s been nice talking to you. Let’s catch up again” and just excuse yourself. 

2. You’re new in the office and a well-known awkward guy wants to strike a conversation with you

You might think that you need to get to know everyone as soon as you join a new team and would hate to dismiss even the uninteresting individuals. So you tried to be nice and listen to small talk even for some hacky topics from new coworkers.  

But more than socializing at work, what you need to do is impress your boss with attentive work. So it is better you make a good excuse to avoid awkward and lengthy conversations with coworkers. 

What can you say? Something along with, “Sorry can’t talk right now, the boss might catch me” should give the awkward guy the cue. 

See also: Oops! 6 Signs You’ve Chosen The Wrong Career Path 

3. A touchy-feely coworker is annoying you

Sometimes you wonder if there is anything in your body language that made this guy in the office think he can come too close to you and be touchy - or maybe it is just how he is. If you encounter this type of coworker and feel uneasy being close to him, it is better to avoid him politely. 

How to get out? The next time he tries to get near you, step back right away. When he places his hand on your shoulder, put on a smile and immediately take his hands off. Every time he makes a touchy move, show a smooth gesture that you don’t like. Soon enough, he will get the message. 

4. Co-workers are provoking you to gossip

Talking about other people is unethical but some people simply love it. What about you? If you hate backbiting, you will try your best to avoid it. But if you are new at work and your seniors caught you, or worse, they keep asking you to say something about your workmates that you barely know about, what should you do? Politely reject the request and move on might be the best solution but these seniors might target you to be their next gossip topics. 

If caught in a situation like this, just ride along their conversation but stay disengaged. In other words, don’t agree or disagree, don’t look interested nor get yourself involved in the conversation. Just leave it emotionally. 

Here’s what you need to do: If asked about something just say, “Sorry, I’m not in the position to say anything about him/her”. Never mind if they will not hang out with you, if they have built a reputation in the office as gossipers then you sure do not want to be associated with them. Remember, you work to impress your boss with excellent performance - not to gossip. 

5. You’re being asked for money

Some coworkers pass the hat to buy birthday gifts for the boss or charitable purposes. But you are not the type of person who will give away your money for things that you have no interest in. 

How to get away from being asked for money? If you want to take care of your own gift for the boss, then politely say it and make no apologies for not dropping another dollar in the hat. As for charitable contributions, unless it is a cause you are interested in then simply say you regularly contribute to your favourite charitable institution.   

6. You’re in a conversation with your manager and his supervisor cuts off with a frown mood. 

One of the most awkward situations is getting stuck in your boss’s room as he fights with his supervisor. You want to excuse yourself but then your boss asked your opinion about which side is right. A risky decision awaits you if you say anything. 

Here’s what you should do, instead: Don’t try to take sides. You can ask each question and help them think of a solution. By asking a respectful question, you might help your boss and his supervisor realise their own mistake. Then when they calm down, you should excuse yourself as soon as possible. 

None wants to involve themselves in an awkward situation, and being stuck in inconveniences is as bad as doing stressful work. So, next time you find yourself in such situations, stay calm and remember the above tips! 

Read also: Work Smart vs. Work Hard: What’s Its Impact on Success? 

Next read: What to Do If Your Boss is Constantly Picking on You