Some people will turn red in shame if they are placed in such situation, while some would get along with it, as if nothing happened.
Below are some awkward situations that you may have encountered. Also included are tips that you can do when faced with such situations.
Forgetting someone’s name
Almost everyone, at least once in his/her life, has experienced this dilemma.
Research shows that brains have a built-in capacity to recognize facial details. The frontal cortex sends signals to the posterior visual cortex to identify the distinct physical characteristics of where the person is looking. However, since names are not unique, the brain struggles to retain them. People forget names when the brain fails to gather and connect pieces of information.
What will you do if, on your way home, you bump into your seatmate in an IELTS review center in Davao? You have been attending classes for weeks already, and you still cannot remember his/her name.
• Do not fret. Say hello. Typically, when the other is in a hurry, you will just exchange greetings. Doing so can save you from getting in an awkward situation and give you time to recall his/her name when you meet again.
What if the person lives in the same town and offers that you walk home together?
• Go with the flow. Refusing the offer is like telling the other person that you are uncomfortable with his/her presence. You only happen to forget the name, not the person.
• Engage in a conversation. Chances are, as you engage in a dialogue, you will remember his/her name.
• Listen carefully. The stories the other person narrates might reveal his/her name. Nothing can possibly go wrong if you keep your hopes up in this matter.
You are nearing the end of the conversation, but you still cannot recall the name.
• Be honest and ask for his/her name politely. You can say: “I'm not good with names. What’s your name again?”
• If you are with someone, take the chance and let him/her introduce himself/herself to the other person.
• Avoid thinking aloud. Do not say: “I’m sorry Jen? Oh, Mary? No, Liza?”
Keep in mind that guessing can put you in a more awkward situation.
Some people are just born tactless.
You are having coffee, and you see your classmate across the IELTS review center waving goodbye to a man. Suddenly, she walks into the shop and found you. You, being friendly, offered the seat next to you and started the conversation.
Wow! You have an attractive boyfriend.
Then she tells you that she is single, and that was her brother. Isn’t that awkward? How will you find your way out?
• Apologize and redirect the conversation. Your statement might have offended her, so do the right thing and apologize. Say: “I’m sorry. I thought she was your boyfriend.”
• Chances are, she will not mind your previous statement and focus on your positive remarks.
• Next time, learn to think before you speak. Not everyone will get what you mean or shrug off your comment(s).
Having a friend who has bad breath
You might have already experienced talking to someone, say your new friend in the IELTS review center. The conversation is good, but you could not focus on the topic because his/her mouth stinks. Will you tell the person directly that he/she has bad breath? Though honesty is a good thing, this may not be the best solution for this case.
• Pop a mint into your mouth and offer him/her one. This way, you do not have to find ways to tell the person that he/she has bad breath. So keep mint candies in your bags and pockets. They may come in handy at the least expected time.
What if you do not have candies?
• You can try looking in another direction, but this may give a wrong impression.
• Pretend that you have a cough or colds. This will justify covering your mouth.
• If none of these works and you think that your friendship is tight and just a single comment would not break it, then be honest. Tell it straight to his/her face but remember to choose the right words.
Owning up to a mistake
It is hard to admit that it is your fault particularly when you are placed in an awkward situation. You can either face the consequences of your mistake or keep mum about it. Studies show that people find it hard to admit they are wrong because:
• They think that acknowledging their mistake is tantamount to being an evil person.
• It hurts their pride to have someone correct their mistakes.
• They feel ashamed of doing the wrong thing.
Honesty is your only way out. For instance, you have a report due today, and it is a team effort. You thought you finished your part, but during the actual presentation, there were other tasks assigned that you disregarded because you thought they were unnecessary. This did not earn your team’s expected score. The members are blaming you. What will you do?
• Do not make excuses. This will just make matters worse. Moreover, your teammates might think that you did not realize what you did.
• Apologize. Admit your mistake and say sorry. It is done anyway. Just tell them that you will do better next time. You will consult them first before deciding on matters. For sure, they will understand.
Research shows that people who own up to their mistakes are viewed as respectable and trustworthy by their colleagues.
Being stuck in an awkward conversation
The weather is good and you just had breakfast. However, you do not feel like talking to people. Suddenly, your friend comes in, excited to share about the movie she watched yesterday. What will you do?
• Do not tell her straight ahead that you are not in the mood to listen to her story.
• If you are walking, try to find an alternate route. Tell your friend, colleague or classmate that you are dropping by a coffee shop or meeting someone. This will give him/her a hint that you are in a hurry.
• When taking phone calls, tell the other person that you would love to catch up, but you are busy at the moment so you would just call when you have time.
• In the office, make yourself busy. For sure, your colleagues will realize that you do not want to be disturbed at the moment. Tell them instead that you can have tea after your shift.
There is no guaranteed way to handle these kinds of situations. What you say or do may lead to good or bad results. However, it will not hurt to apply the tips mentioned above. The key is to remain confident, think things clearly and learn to pause. Note that for once in their life, people are in the same boat as yours. Just let it pass; soon you would be laughing about it.
- Vozza, Stephanie. "How To Handle The Most Awkward Situations." Fast Company. April 30, 2014. Accessed January 25, 2017. https://www.fastcompany.com/3029817/how-to-handle-the-most-awkward-situations.
- Passarella, Elizabeth Schatz. "How to Handle Sticky Situations." Real Simple. August 29, 2014. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/work-life-etiquette/sticky-situations/handle-sticky-situations/more.
- Kelleher, Liv. "How to Handle 7 Awkward Situations With Grace." StyleCaster. August 19, 2015. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://stylecaster.com/beauty/how-to-handle-awkward-situations-with-grace/.
- "How to Survive Awkward Situations." Reader's Digest Canada. October 27, 2015. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://www.readersdigest.ca/health/healthy-living/how-survive-awkward-situations/#UYxDPG9I5z3iv9st.97.
- Cheary, Michael. "How to: Deal with awkward situations at work." Reed.co.uk. November 25, 2015. Accessed January 25, 2017. https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/how-to-deal-with-awkward-situations-at-work/.
- Miller, Anna Medaris. "7 tips for dealing with life's most awkward situations, backed by research." Business Insider. December 02, 2015. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/7-science-backed-strategies-to-handle-awkward-situations-without-losing-your-cool-2015-12.
- "Why you can never remember people's names: Brain struggles to retain random information - especially if we're not interested in the person." Daily Mail Online. May 15, 2015. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3083204/Why-never-remember-people-s-names-Brain-struggles-retain-random-information-especially-not-interested-person.html.