Awkward situations at work

Just when we thought we left all our embarrassing days back in our teenage years, adulting hits us and we’re thrown into a whole new world to navigate. Whether it’s avoiding our bosses on Facebook or spelling a colleague’s name wrong, there are a ton of awkward situations we encounter on the daily.

Here are some cringe-worthy situations every Singaporean has encountered at work: 

1. When you put your hand out to shake a client’s hand, but they don’t take it

Hands up if you’ve ever put your hand out to greet a client but they don’t notice it. So you crumble with embarrassment inside and try to salvage the situation by stretching your wrist or adjusting your hair. 

awkward situations at work - gif of handshake being ignored

But kudos to the bolder soldiers out there who leave their hand out adamantly till they get that handshake. You guys have a will of steel!

2. That corporate smile you give when you bump into colleagues you barely know

awkward situations at work - gif of bumping into colleague

If we had a dollar for every time we’ve been thrown into an awkward interaction with a colleague we barely know, we’d probably make a decent side income.

From silent elevator rides, to exchanging polite nods only to find out you’re heading in the same direction, having small talk with someone you don’t really know can use up extra watts from your limited social battery.

awkward situations at work - gif of colleagues using phone while walking together

Then comes the dreaded moment when you run out of things to ask each other. You drop into an uncomfortable silence, so both of you flip out your phones to pretend you’ve got important notifications to tend to.

3. When your friend asks you what your salary is

Whether you’re talking to a close friend or acquaintance, there are things some of us prefer to keep private. This includes the arguably taboo topic of one’s salary. 

But there’s always that one curious cat out there who is bold enough to ask, “how much you earn ah?”

Instead of flat-out denying them an answer, you can say a non-committal, “I wish I earned more, but overall I’m good – you leh?” 

4. When a client keeps spelling your name wrong in emails but you don’t know how to correct them

It happens to the most unsuspecting of us – you liaise with a client only to get a reply addressing you with the wrong name. It’s even more paiseh when all your superiors are in the thread, so you either stick with your “new” name, or be bold and leave a “by the way, it’s Syuhada.” Don’t forget to leave a smiley face so they know you’re not pissed. 

awkward situations at work - check spelling of name sticky note

And if you’re the one who’s being a DJ, remixing everyone’s names in emails, don’t repeat that mistake. Blame it on the auto-correct if you have to, but always apologise. 

5. When your boss asks why you haven’t accepted their friend request on FB

Most of us probably live a double life without even realising: professional at work vs ratchet after hours. It’s perfectly fine, but if your unconventional lifestyle gets leaked in the office via social media, it’s normal to fear colleagues may start judging you, which may mark the endgame for your professional life.

awkward situations at work - gif of boss requesting to follow on instagram

Then one day your big boss approaches you asking why you haven’t accepted their friend request. You can change the subject with a “Oh sorry, I’ve got a call now”, come up with an excuse saying you don’t use Facebook, or just… tender your resignation. 

6. When you need to do a ‘no. 2’ in the office toilet but don’t want others to hear that ploop sound

awkward situations at work - check if there is anyone before entering toilet cubicle

It is perfectly human to have to answer nature’s call after a good lunch. But it’s embarrassing when you have to do it in full audio range of others in neighbouring cubicles. So you either try to tahan until you are within the comfort of your home or wait until no one else is using the office toilet.

Here’s a pro-tip: layer the “landing zone” with some tissue paper. That should help to mute that heavy splash sound. While you’re at it, you can also consider bringing in some air freshener so you can leave that cubicle with confidence and a flowery scent. 

7. When you zone out in a meeting and suddenly get asked a question

awkward situations at work - getting caught zoning out in meeting

Sometimes we can’t help but zone out in meetings: it could be too early in the morning, or you could be experiencing a food coma after lunch. Everything’s fine if you can act like you’re following the meeting. But if someone decides to shoot you a question and all you’ve penned done is the date and agenda – you’re in trouble.

So now the whole room is looking at you and waiting for an answer. You can try to buy time with, “sorry, can you rephrase your question?” Try to not break into a panic sweat while peering at your neighbour’s notes and the powerpoint slides for an idea of what’s going on. Sputter a few relevant words and pray you’ve dodged a bullet.

8. When you try your best to turn down friends who are insurance agents

awkward situations at work - waiting for a friend who can't say no to insurance agents

Insurance is important to protect your income should you encounter an unfortunate event, but when you have friends who are insurance agents, you would’ve probably heard 1 too many insurance pitches. Your casual meetups often become advice sessions where they inadvertently pry your personal info to draw up an insurance plan for you. 

On one hand you want to support them because you know they’re just trying to make a living. But on the other hand, even if you already have an insurance plan, it always appears that you need more.

You don’t have to outright reject your buddy. Instead, show them that you know your stuff just by doing a little background research on your own. Platforms like MoneyOwl can guide first-timers through quotes from various insurance companies when you fill up a simple form. You’ll get info like how much coverage you actually need, plus a range of products that are suitable for you.

The woke version of you might finally be able to have a proper conversation with your friend. Who knows? You might even scare them off with your knowledge of insurance plans.

Plan your own insurance with MoneyOwl

Interacting with other professionals is a staple part of adulting, and awkward situations are just part of the process all of us have to go through. But if you want to avoid uncomfortable talks with insurance agents, you might find digital interactions much more favourable. 

awkward situations at work - moneyowl site for insurance

Enter MoneyOwl, an online financial advisor that’ll assist you without you having to put on your work smile when planning something as personal as insurance. They have over 500,000 insurance quotes on their platform, so you won’t have to go through an agent to find a plan that best suits you. 

Their MoneyOwl Insurance Robo does the math for you so you’ll get comprehensive quotes hassle-free. It’s a free service too – all you have to do is fill up a simple form on their site and scroll through the options if you don’t know what you need, and it’ll instantly provide you with suitable options based on your current financial situation.

These options are ranked from the most to least value for money, so you can see all your options at one go. You’ll be able to view the cost breakdowns and details on each insurance provider to make an informed decision. Select your desired plan from there and get assigned to your very own human adviser who will provide conflict-free advice. 

Here’s a bonus: you’ll also be eligible for a 50% basic commission rebate for all eligible insurance products chosen with MoneyOwl. 

Find an insurance plan with MoneyOwl here

This post was brought to you by MoneyOwl.
Photography by Clement Sim.

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