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Awkward Moments at the Office

8 Awkward Moments in the Office and How to Avoid Them

PSA: Everybody messes up. Even the seemingly perfect people who always have it together make a blunder here and there. But it's how you make up for your mistakes that matters — and this definitely applies to those work-related missteps. And even if it's not YOUR error or fault, you could be affected by someone else's miscalculation. Ahead are eight awkward moments that may have happened to you (or very well could happen to you) and how to recover.

Awkward moment: You cry at work.

Whether you had a horrible meeting or just a very long, very stressful day, it's perfectly normal to shed a few tears in front of important people without meaning to.

The fix: "You should excuse yourself to a quiet spot where you can be alone to calm your thoughts — a simple 'Excuse me for a few minutes, I will be back' is fine," said Hallie Crawford, career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. "Stop thinking the thought that is upsetting you, and focus on something else besides that fear or frustration, if possible. Look out the window, look down at your paper as if you are reading your notes, and just breathe. Relax and think of something else that relaxes you."

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Awkward moment: You get hit on by a co-worker.

So the dude four cubicles down wants your number . . . and you're simply not into it.

The fix: "If someone is hitting on you at work and making you feel uncomfortable, politely tell them that you're not interested," said career and life coach Jenn Dewall. "If they continue to pursue you, reach out to a mentor or boss and get their feedback on the next steps you should take based on your company culture." And remember, you can always file a sexual harassment report with HR if the advances get out of hand.

Awkward moment: You get drunk at an office event.

Your company threw a huge party, and you went a little nuts at the free minibar. In your tipsy stupor, you may have stepped on a few toes (literally).

The fix: "If you get too drunk and crazy in front of your boss or executives, have a short conversation with them apologizing for your conduct," DeWall said. "It's better to apologize than to have massive anxiety and self-judgment over your behavior. Apologize and move on."

Awkward moment: Your boss catches you wasting time on social media.

Work's been slow lately, so you peruse the likes of Facebook and Twitter to pass the time. At most companies, this is a no-no.

The fix: "It would be obvious to cover it up," Crawford said. "And the course of action you take depends on what kind of relationship you have with your boss. But you can try to diffuse the situation. If you are watching the newest Chewbacca Mom video on the internet when your boss comes up, invite him to watch it with you. Then close the browser and get back to work. You might share a good laugh! Or if you're not that close with your boss, let him or her know you were taking a break for a moment between tasks to clear your head, so he or she understands it's not a regular thing."

Awkward moment: Your co-worker overshares personal information.

You're friends with your teammate, but you're not quite as close as she thinks you are. You don't want to know every little detail about her life outside of work . . . but she's always filling you in anyway.

The fix: "Remember that everyone should be able to feel like themselves at work and sharing some personal information is a way to build a good relationship with your co-workers," Crawford said. "However, generally it is best to avoid topics of politics, religion, and morality in the workplace. One should also avoid off-color jokes. If you are in a conversation that steers in one of those directions, simply try to change the subject."

Awkward moment: You hit "Reply All" in an email.

It's insanely easy to accidentally respond to the entire company on a chain email, since the buttons are right next to each other — especially if you happen to be in a rush.

The fix: "Typically I recommend not responding back to the group unless it's a small email group," DeWall said. "If you do respond, simply post 'Disregard my previous email' in the subject heading so people know they can delete it."

Awkward moment: You kiss a co-worker after too many drinks.

Whoopsies — you made out with the sales girl two rows down after a few 5 p.m. margaritas.

The fix: "This one is so awkward because offices act like big schools," millennial career expert Jill Jacinto said. "People always love gossiping about who is into who and who is hooking up. And if you leave with a co-worker at a happy hour or give them a smooch in front of others, [you should] get ready to be the brunt of their jokes. Instead, stick to a two-drink-max policy, and know when it is time to leave the party next time."

Awkward moment: Your colleagues catch you job searching.

You're unhappy with your current gig, so you browse Indeed on your company laptop for a new lead. One word: don't.

The fix: "So you got caught printing your résumé or someone spotted a job listing site on your computer monitor," Jacinto said. "Never print your résumé at the office. Everything you print is tracked by your computer system. This is the same with your browsing history on your computer. Invest in an at-home printer and make time to job search off hours." And if the damage is already done, consider scheduling a meeting with your manager to discuss why you're thinking of leaving in the first place. He or she may be able to provide a solution to the dissatisfaction you're feeling.

Overall advice: "Awkward moments at the office are unavoidable because we're all human," said Pocket Mentor Founder and CEO Caren Merrick. The best way to deal with an awkward situation is to treat the person the way you'd want to be treated and to remember that whatever it is, we've all done it, or something like it! Most awkward moments aren't fatal and, often, with time, become some of the funniest stories to share." Cheers to that!

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim
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