How to Be Awkward in the Workplace in 10 Easy Steps

I want to start off by reminding you guys that I worked in a bar for six years, and was a bar manager for almost two years. I started there when I was 18, and I pretty much grew up there with all my coworkers. We were like the biggest family ever…messing with each other, going camping together, throwing house parties, bowling nights, we did a lot together. So yes, when you walk up to coworker you would hug them! Sometimes you would even be squeezed to death, or picked up and shaken around like a rag doll, but that’s what we did! There was always a TON of inappropriate jokes, we would drink beer together after work, head over to Applebee’s on those late closing nights; it was a really awesome job.

Then last May I finally graduated from college and began my search for my big girl job. Getting a degree in business was great because I could literally do anything with it! Oh shit, wait. I could literally do ANYTHING with it. Damn. Now I have to figure out what I’m interested in?!?! (This is where not having a hobby or passion really sucks). Well, by the luck of the draw, I got my job that I have now. Complete opposite of a bar scene. 8 – 5, Monday – Friday, Holidays off, paid vacation, a true office job. And now I’m learning day by day that I can’t act the way I used to with coworkers. Now I have to learn how to not be that awkward girl in the office that doesn’t ever know what to do with her hands!

So here are my tips on what not to do in the work place!

1. Outside of work functions

Do you hug? Wave? Shake hands? They don’t teach you this in college!! I attended one of my first out of work events with a coworker to go hang out with the rest of the people in the office. The first person I saw I hugged. Oops. That felt a little awkward. Second person I saw, I stood and waved. Then my coworker told me I’m suppose to shake their hands. So when I was leaving I went to shake my boss’s hand and then he went in for a hug! WTF?!? Most awkward and confusing moment ever.

2. Spam emails

We were having a “mock interview” event for our managers to practice interviewing candidates. I reached out to the local colleges looking for guinea pigs. No luck. My boss told me to put it on Craigslist and I out my email on there so interested people could email me. I’ve never used Craigslist before but that’s what I did. I got an email later that day with the subject line “interesting interviewing activity”. I click on it in hopes I sparked some interest. It was a picture of a naked black man with the biggest penis ever. Almost like a third leg. I screamed and closed it. I was so panicked about viruses that I ran over to IT and told them to come look at it to make sure it wasn’t a virus. But I literally had no words to tell them what was in that email. I just pointed to it and said be careful. “Oh. Oh wowwwww.” That was their response as they then broke into laugher and I tried not to die from embarrassment. Of course, there was no virus. The only damage was to my eyes and my pride.

3. Singing at work

Ok, this one is not something I’ve done, but I have a coworker who is an elderly woman and she sings. It’s awkward. Especially since she sings like an opera singer. Very high pitched. She sings at the front desk, in the mail room, while she microwaves her lunch. Just stop. Don’t sing at work.

On one of those days though, that I was all jacked up on caffeine, I broke out into song. My coworker looked at me and said in his English accent, “New rule – Allison is not allowed to sing.” Dude. I was kiddinggggg. Obviously I would never let anyone experience that god awful noise come out of my mouth.

4. The youngest in the building

So, I am the youngest person working in our office building. The part of this that’s awkward, is when I still refer to myself as a kid. Working in HR, you can’t exactly say whatever you’re thinking all the time. Well one day I was making a joke, and then my coworker walked into our department. I thought it was our boss. I looked at him and said, “Oh thank god it’s just you, I was afraid you were an adult!” Oh. My. God. Everyone looked at me and said, “YOU are an adult!” Awkward. Embarrassing. Everything. Sigh.

5. Zipping up your fly

One time I had to take a three hour road trip with my boss to one of our other sites. I’m going to preface this story with the fact that he is kind of awkward to begin with. As am I, I completely admit that and own it. Anyway, we had finally arrived at the other office and I had noticed that his fly was down. I didn’t want to say anything because that would have opened a huge can of awkwardness. I pretended I didn’t see anything. I started getting all of my stuff together to get out of the car, when he noticed it, and zipped up his fly right in front of me! Awkward as hell! Maybe it’s not that big of a deal, but to me – I was scarred! He could have just waited to get out of the car and casually zip it up outside the car where I couldn’t see. But no.

6. Talking about the name of a bar

So I had a position open for awhile in Elko, NV. Not much there, I’ve only been there once or twice though so I wouldn’t really know. Anyhow, I had a couple of applications come through that had listed “The G Spot Bar and Grill” as one of their employers. Since I had seen it more than once, I made a joke and said, “Dang this bar has got to be the place to work!” But then I started laughing hysterically just at the name of it. Then my boss asked me what I was laughing about, and I got embarrassed to tell him such a raunchy name for a bar. Once I told him he said, “Well is it really just a bar though?” And I stupidly said, “Well, no, it has grill in the title too,” because I honestly didn’t know what he meant. And then it hit me. It’s Nevada. Some places like that, you know, those “happy endings” places are totally legal in Nevada. I got so bright red, and it was just all so very awkward and embarrassing. Next time I just won’t even point it out. Like ever.

7. Wardrobe

I think I’ve mentioned before how much the office wardrobe is a struggle for me. My second week of work I wore one of my favorite dresses. All day long. At the end of the day, the person that was training me took me into a conference room and was complimenting me dress and then ended the sentence with, “It’s way way too short. So cute. But way to short for work.” I was mortified. Ever since that day I refused to wear a skirt or dress. But a couple of weeks ago I went shopping with my momma and got two pencil skirts and a dress. I wore the dress a couple weeks ago. It was a big hit! I got a ton of compliments, and my boss said I looked “very professional” that day. I guess the other days I just look like a freaking hot mess. So the next week I wore one of the pencil skirts. I rounded a corner of cubicles and a male coworker said, “Wow. You look so fancy, like you could be going to a ball.” WTF. It’s a pencil skirt GUY. This is what people wear to work nowadays! Embarrassing. Extremely. Now my momma knows why I hate dressing up. Because EVERYONE and their mother has something to say.

8. Poor lunch choices

I try to bring my lunch as much as I can, but sometimes I have those weeks where I boycott the grocery store. So then I have to go but my lunch and sometimes I don’t want to be healthy so I get nachos. Cheesy, creamy, unhealthy nachos. Which then results in rushing to the restroom after lunch, which then results in your coworkers asking “where have you been?” when you walk back into the room.

9. End of the meeting awkwardness

I hate it when you have a meeting and you pretty much don’t accomplish anything or learn anything. And then it’s that awkward silence when your boss looks at you and your coworkers and says, “Is that it? Anything else to say?” Or when I get ready to leave the boss’s office and every time my boss says, “Thanks, you’re doing a great job,” with the most overjoyed smile, even if we were talking about something stupid or pointless. It’s all just so very awkward.

10. Afraid of confrontation

So, for all of you that have seen Friends…do you know that episode when Rachel has to talk to her boss and she starts crying and says, “…but they are not tears of sadness or of anger…but just of me having this discussion with you,”? That is me. To a tee. I’m not sad or mad, but my boss always wants to have conversations with me about my future at the company and about my long term goals, and what I want to accomplish in my position, and I cry. Every damn time. What the hell?! It’s awful. It’s not always a full on cry, it’s mostly just tearing up a lot, but it is so embarrassing. I don’t know why I can’t get a grip on things, but it happens. But hey, one time I coincidentally got a raise the next day, so maybe it’s working for me!

Does anyone else have this awful internal struggle of trying to adult in the workplace? I want to hear about it! 🙂


12 thoughts on “How to Be Awkward in the Workplace in 10 Easy Steps

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