How To Deal With The 10 Most Uncomfortable Work Situations

Ten of the most common (and cringeworthy) scenarios that our readers found themselves in this year.

No matter how much you love your job, navigating workplace politics in any office can lead to a lot of awkward situations. We tackled most of them this year in our weekly Ask the Experts columns. Below we compiled 10 of the most common–and cringeworthy–scenarios with the hopes that in 2016, things can be a little more harmonious at work.


Uncomfortable Work Situation No. 1: Your Colleagues Take Credit For Your Work

When one member of a team doesn’t want to share the spotlight, egos can get bruised. The first step to make sure you get the credit you deserve is to speak up when presenting your joint ideas to the boss. After all, even if your coworker is diligent about saying “we,” the boss will remember that he was the one who did all the talking. Read More: My Coworker Takes All The Credit For The Work We Do Together

Uncomfortable Work Situation No. 2: You Feel Like You Have To Overanalyze How Your Tone Will Be Perceived

It’s a problem a lot of women (and probably some men) have: watering down everything you say or using wishy-washy phrases like, “If it’s not too much trouble,” or, “I may not know what I’m saying, but . . . ” The first step to get over this is to understand the difference between sounding arrogant and assertive. Read More: I’m Overly Cautious Of My Tone Because I’m Afraid Of Being Seen As Bitchy

Uncomfortable Work Situation No. 3: Your Coworker’s Noise Is Driving You Slowly Insane

We’ve long lamented open office plans, and dreamed of ways to help eliminate distractions. But until the day you have your own office door to shut the world out, you have to find a way to deal with hearing every single sound that your coworkers make. Before you have a confrontation, work somewhere else in the office or record the noises that you make during a workday—maybe the noises aren’t as bad as you think. Read More: How Do I Politely Tell A Coworker He’s Being Way Too Loud?


Uncomfortable Work Situation No. 4: Every Time You Speak Up In A Meeting You’re Interrupted

You know the power of speaking up at work, but what good is it if you’re never allowed to finish your thoughts? You need to feel valued and worth listening to in order to speak with authority and presence, and if your colleagues aren’t giving you that, you can develop it for yourself. It’s not a question of blaming yourself, but of solving the problem by changing the only part of it that’s within your control. Read More: How Do I Stop People From Constantly Interrupting Me At Meetings?

Uncomfortable Work Situation No. 5: Making Friends In The Office

Trying to make new friends as an adult can be awkward. The best way to form closer relationships is to invite one of your coworkers out to lunch. And there’s nothing wrong with approaching a group of people you know who sit together and asking to join them. The groups at work form haphazardly, and people are often happy to have new additions. Read More: How Do I Make Friends At Work?

Uncomfortable Work Situation No. 6: Firing Someone Who Works Hard But Isn’t Good Enough

Firing is one of the most uncomfortable parts of any manager’s job. It’s made even more painful when you think your employee is trying their best, but their best just isn’t good enough. Start by setting out clear benchmarks, and let her know what will happen if she doesn’t meet them. Read More: Should I Fire Someone Who Works Hard But Isn’t Meeting Expectations?


Uncomfortable Work Situation No. 7: You Want To Leave At 5 p.m. But You’re In An Office Of Workaholics

The idea of putting in “face time” seems antiquated in the age of flexible work schedules. But what if you work in an office that seems to value how long you’re at your desk more than what you are accomplishing? We found out a few tips to make sure you aren’t clocking extra hours for no reason, starting with having an honest conversation with your boss. Read More: How Can I Leave At 5 p.m. Without Looking Like A Slacker?

Uncomfortable Work Situation No. 8: Your Employees Don’t Respect You

When you get promoted to a management position, respect from your employees doesn’t come automatically. The first step in earning respect is projecting confidence in your new role, then being specific and clear about your expectations. Read More: My Direct Report Doesn’t Respect Me–What Should I Do?

Uncomfortable Work Situation No. 9: You Are Interviewing For Jobs With A Visible Baby Bump

Interviewing is stressful enough, but when your physical appearance gives away that your availability is about to change, it’s understandable to feel like you are under extra scrutiny. But your pregnancy gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your resourcefulness and preparation. Be ready with a plan for minimizing the impact of your absence. Read More: How Should I Address My (Obvious) Pregnancy In An Interview?


Uncomfortable Work Situation No. 10: You’d Rather Go Straight Home Instead Of Attend The Weekly Happy Hour

Of all of the office rituals, blowing off steam with a few beers after hours is likely the most beloved for many people. But not parents of young children—when they are already sacrificing quality time by working long hours, missing bedtime is a big deal. To get the social benefits of happy hour without compromising time with your family, try coming up with some time during work to bond–like lunch or family-friendly weekend events like bowling. Read More: Is It Hurting My Career To Skip Happy Hour With My Coworkers?

Related: Are You Making The Right Impression?