What’s the most awkward thing you’ve experienced at work?
Why can no one spell my name?
No matter where you work, there will always be awkward social interactions you cannot avoid.
The one on one lift journey with someone who hates you after a drunken argument. The moment you spill sriracha on your clothes before an important meeting. Trying to decide whether to correct your boss after he gets your name wrong.
We asked people in Finsbury Park Square and Broadgate what the most awkward thing they’d ever seen at work is.
I’m from Belgium and we spell “Nicholas” as “Nicolas” there.
Of course, this makes things awkward for me almost every day – I’m always getting emails addressed to Nicholas, not Nicolas.
It’s not worth correcting them, it happens so much that there’s isn’t really enough time to correct it.
Joe, Lift Engineer
I’ve got two stories actually.
The first one was this guy in an office I was working at who was obviously getting more and more stressed as the day went on. You could see it in his face. In this office there was a free coffee machine which everyone used. This stressed guy walked up to it and it wouldn’t work, he tried it again, it wouldn’t work. He completely lost his shit and started punching this machine in front of the entire office. He went berserk.
A mate told me about a cleaner who went mental. He was cleaning the men’s toilets and a guy came in and used one of the cubicles he’d recently cleaned. The guy who came in did something really weird – he smeared shit and toilet paper all over the floor and the walls – he decorated this cubicle with his shit. The cleaner was absolutely furious but he couldn’t speak any English. He followed the guy out into the office and started screaming at him in front of everyone – the guy who did the decorating lost his job.
Claire, Chartered Surveyor
The most awkward experience I’ve ever had in an office and possibly in my life, was telling a woman who I managed that she had body odour problems.
I kept getting complaints about her and her smell, eventually I had to do something about it. I pulled her into a meeting and told it to her straight. She was very sensitive about it, actually quite upset about it, which is understandable. It was worth doing it though, she ended up smelling much better and the entire office was happier as a result.
Nothing awkward has happened to me yet – it probably will eventually. I think what makes an office is awkward is people making too much noise.
One guy in my office always smashes his phone down after calls. He really slams it and makes a loud noise and everyone looks at each other.
By far the most awkward thing that ever happened to me didn’t actually happen in the office.
It was lunchtime and I was queuing for a coffee in a Pret when the company director came in and started queuing in the adjacent line. I looked over at him, made eye contact and smiled at him. He gave me a completely blank stare – no acknowledgment – and looked the other way.
He obviously didn’t know who I was.
Josh, Graphic Designer
My old boss lost it once.
He got very, very angry and hit our printer so hard that it literally broke in half. I can’t actually recall what was making him so angry – maybe the printer ran out of ink? It was a small office, just four people in there and it was pretty awkward and tense when it finished.