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How to deal with awkward situations

How to deal with awkward situations
We’ve all been there: you say the wrong thing and you want the ground to swallow you up! Here are some tips on how to deal with awkward situations

I forgot the name of someone I know

Don’t be mortified when you forget the name of an acquaintance or colleague. These things happen to everyone. Just say, “Oops, I’ve forgotten your name” and light-heartedly promise to remember it next time.
"Don’t be mortified when you forget someone's name: these things happen to the best of us"
When the person reminds you of his or her name, repeat it aloud as a way of helping you remember it better.

I called someone the wrong name—the really wrong name

What may be worse than not remembering someone’s name is calling the person by the wrong name. For instance, you’re speaking to a friend’s new husband, and you call him by the old husband’s name. Or you refer to your new boss by the ousted boss’s name.
"If you call someone the wrong name, acknowledge your mistake with humour"
Try to acknowledge your mistake with a little humour. Perhaps say, “Oh, I really know you’re Mike and not Tom.” Apologise for your slipup and let it drop. If your mistake obviously insulted a person of authority, such as your boss, who wasn’t impressed with how you recovered from the error, you might want to send a quick note later, again apologising for the lapse.

I really put my foot in my mouth

You wrote a nasty email about someone—and now you realise you accidentally sent it to them. Or you just mocked an acquaintance who, you discover too late, is standing nearby. Since the floor isn’t going to open up and swallow you whole, as much as you wish it would, you’re going to have to deal with this.
A man in a blue T-shirt and black hoody facepalms
You must offer an apology, and it must be a good one. Don’t say, “I didn’t really mean it.” You probably did mean it and denying it will just compound the error. In other words, don’t apologise for what you think, feel, or said about the person. Instead, apologise for the effects of what you said.
Try something like this: “I cannot apologise enough for making those careless comments about you. It was heartless, it was stupid, and you don’t deserve whatever embarrassment or irritation I caused you.” Apologise profusely and sincerely and then be done with it; don’t stretch out the explanation or keep bringing up how sorry you are later.

I’ve bumped into a friend who didn’t invite me to their wedding

Your circle of university buddies swore you’d be friends forever. So, your feelings were hurt when, five years after graduation, one of them invited everyone else to their wedding but not you. You’ve just bumped into them, and you feel awkward.
Two women wearing cream-coloured coats talk on the street
In this case, take the high road and don’t mention not going to the wedding. Perhaps you lived far away from the ceremony, and your friend didn’t want you to feel obligated to buy a plane ticket. Or maybe the other friends had stayed in closer touch with them than you had.
Whatever the reason, don’t make a big deal of it. When you see your friend, congratulate them on their marriage and wish the happy couple the best.

A stranger asked me a personal question

Perhaps you’re pregnant. Or your child has a birthmark or disability. Or you’ve adopted a child of another race. You’d think these matters would be your business alone, but unfortunately there are a lot of overly curious people out there.
Although such questions are undeniably rude, bluntly telling the questioner to mind his or her own business is not the way to go. People don’t mean to be rude. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
"People don't mean to be rude: give them the benefit of the doubt"
Have a few polite responses ready, but don’t offer too much information. Say something like “Yes, I’m expecting” or “Yes, they’re adopted.” Continue with “I’m in a really big rush” and keep walking.

My friend has bad breath

How do you tell your friend they have breath that would slay the devil? Here’s an easy, roundabout way: pop a mint or piece of gum into your own mouth and then offer one to your friend. This way, you won’t be saying anything outright, and if they accept your offer, everyone wins.
Two people sit on bean bags and talk to each other
If not? Well, it depends on how strong your friendship is. You either risk offending your friend with the truth or ignore the problem and excuse yourself to get a breath of fresh air.
Banner photo: How to deal with some common awkward situations (credit: Bernard Hermant (Unsplash))
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