Employee Engagement, Life at Work


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Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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Optimized-iStock_000041942514_SmallWhile none of us have to work for The Office’s boss Michael Scott in real life, there are still everyday awkward situations that every single employee has experienced (or witnessed) at least once in their lives. These 16 awkward situations can be totally embarrassing, but always remember that you aren’t working at Dunder Mifflin.

1. You get the hiccups …

… right when the conference call is about to start

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At their very essence, conference calls are awkward. You can’t see the social cues to know when it’s your turn to speak, you can always hear too much background noise, and sometimes you forget to mute when you decide to take a bite into your sandwich. But nothing is worse than realizing you have those huge hiccups one second into your call. You have to awkwardly do the mute/unmute so you can speak but not allow anyone else to hear you.


2. When you’re on the exact same schedule as your colleague

It’s the worst when you seem to mirror your acquaintance-level colleague’s every move. You pack up together, walk to the elevator together, ride the slowest (it always seems so) elevator ride down together, walk to your car together. And oh, whoops, you parked right next to each other. It gets worse when you mirror public transportation schedules. To avoid, you pretend to take just a little bit longer to put that notebook and pen back into your bag before going. You can only make the “fancy seeing you here” joke so many times.


3. You call the new hire by the wrong name all week

Who knew Karen was Kathy?


4. Someone calls you the wrong name all week

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I’m Kathy, not Karen! You want to scream, but somehow it seems even more awkward to point it out.


5. Your stomach starts growling during a meeting

(Who schedules these things for noon, anyway?) You can’t help it, and you can’t very well sneak out to rummage through your snack drawer. So you have to sit there and cross your fingers, hoping no one mentions it — but they always do.


6. When your boss catches you checking out Instagram

In your panic to close the tab, you look even more guilty. Of course, it was the one time all day you took a break from the spreadsheets to check out your friend’s wedding pictures, but sure, now you seem like a total slacker.


7. The Reply All mistake

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Why do email companies feel the need to put the “Reply” and “Reply All” button so close together? You just meant to make that wisecrack to your best pal in the office, but somehow everyone (including the joke’s target) just read it. Looks like you have to shame hide in your cube all day.


8. Running into your boss coming out of the bathroom

You haven’t seen her since your big evaluation meeting, but here she is, walking out of the bathroom stall at the exact same time as you come out of the one next to it. What can you talk about while you together wash your hands?


9. When you mistake someone’s lunch for your own

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You packed the exact same-looking turkey sandwich in a ziplock bag and put it in the office fridge. It was only halfway through when you remember that, strange, you don’t remember putting tomato on yours. Now you’re stuck pretending you have no idea where his lunch went while you quickly toss out the incriminating evidence.


10. That moment when nothing works

Of course you tested your computer, the projector, and that slideshow a hundred times before the big presentation. But now, standing in front of clients, your boss, and colleagues all listening in wait, suddenly everything and anything tech related decides to not cooperate. You’re stuck bumbling through and making awkward jokes about how the time before the Internet was way better.


11. The microwave wait

75 employees and 1 microwave. It’s bound to create awkward conversations. While your frozen lasagna is heating up, you find yourself counting down the seconds while you know the three people holding their lunches behind you are wondering exactly what meal takes seven whole minutes.


12. Accidentally signing off your email with “Love”

It’s not that you don’t like your colleague; it’s just that you intended to sign off the project email with a simple “thanks!” and something weird happened to your fingers and you thought you were writing to your spouse. Awkwardness ensues.


13. Spilling coffee all over yourself

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Of course it has to happen first thing in the morning, and of course everyone has to point it out all day, and of course when you decide you can’t take it anymore, all you have to change into is your gym clothes for the post-office workout. Now you’re the guy who wears a Nike t-shirt and dress pants (or maybe it’s the reverse with gym shorts and a button-up).


14. Wardrobe malfunctions

You just exit your meeting with an important client feeling confident — then you look down and notice you missed a button on your shirt and your fly is unzipped.


15. Your personal cell phone disrupts everyone

You thought you put it on silent, so you’re joining in everyone poking their heads up and shaming the noisemaker in the office until you realize … whoops. To make matters worse, you never did change that One Direction ringtone your daughter put on.


16. Printer issues

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You just wanted to print out one quick copy of something not office related, but it seems your colleague beat you to the printer and is now inspecting just who printed off something so strange. Bonus awkwardness if it happens to be your resume.

At least you can find solace in the fact that you are not alone. These cringe-worthy workplace moments have happened to everyone at one point in time — even if they don’t want to admit it.


Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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