How to Handle Awkward Situations in the Workplace
We spend so many hours per day at work, so it comes as no surprise that not every moment goes swimmingly. Humans have their ups and downs, and when the downs are workplace-oriented, awkwardness can ensue. But then, people have trouble dealing with uncomfortable situations for fear of being unprofessional or worry that things will become even more difficult if the topic is discussed at all.
Should we let the sticky scenarios go on or speak up to set things straight? If you are the type to talk it out, but office awkwardness has kept your lips zipped, here are some tips for handling fairly common workplace conflicts without causing chaos.
The Super-Noisy Nuisance
There is always that one shout-talking, paper-rustling, loud-chewing noisemaker in the office that causes distraction and annoyance. Everyone agrees they are unnecessarily boisterous, but nobody wants to be the one to ask them to take it down a few notches. Not only is this irritating, but it can affect your job performance.
One technique to get this person to listen to your gripe is to "make it clear that the problem is yours, not his," as suggested by Fast Company. "So, you are asking for his help to clear up your problem and not focusing on him as the problem. In that way, you might be able to enlist his help while not embarrassing him. If all else fails, you should chat with a supervisor to see if you can get your desk moved."
But Work Happy Now makes it clear, "Before asking your co-worker to stop a certain behavior, make sure that you aren't guilty of something as annoying yourself." Nobody's perfect, not even you.
"Reply All" Ramifications
Unsend! Unsend! Have you been humiliated by hitting "reply all" or responding to an email you meant to forward to someone else with some added comments and complaints you'd never want the original sender to see? Modern technology sure has its perks, but screw-ups are still a human element.
Reedrecommends, "The only thing you can do in this situation is come clean. Take the person in question aside and express your sincere regret in making the mistake. Apologize for any offense caused, listen to their reaction, and move on."
Huffington Postadds, "Make the apology in person or by phone, especially considering that email leaves tone to the imagination of the reader. You don't want to risk getting it wrong again."
When a Peer Gets Too Personal
"TMI" is awkward enough when it comes from a friend, let alone someone you work with. If a co-worker is divulging too much personal information, it can run the risk of overstepping boundaries, making for an uncomfortable atmosphere. While you want to maintain a certain level of trust around the office, getting too deep can get you in deep trouble.
As Experience points out, "Look first at your own actions to make sure you haven't unwittingly implied that you're an available confidante. If your behavior isn't what needs altering, draw a boundary by suggesting a more appropriate person for your (co-worker) to take his problems to such as a family member or friend."
Gossiping about others is in the same boat. It may feel like human nature to participate in such behavior, but rise above and go about your business. Work Happy Now suggests, "When someone tries to share office gossip with you, try changing the conversation, or simply tell them that you don't like talking about others because you don't like it when people talk about you."
The Food-Stealing Fiend
You were looking forward to that chicken salad sandwich you picked up at the deli on the way to work only to find it missing from the communal fridge. And that half-and-half for your mid-morning coffee? Half-gone. What gives? Looks like you've got a snack-stealer on your hands, and it is likely that it isn't only your goodies they are gobbling.
This may seem like a petty problem, but as per Daily Telegraph, it is pervasive. "A survey released by online grocer Peapod revealed that 71 percent of employees have had their personal snack, drink or meal stolen out of communal-office kitchens. Not only that, but in urban areas, 40 percent of employees admitted to having been the perpetrators of lunch theft."
Work Happy Now has the answer, "Put your food in some sort of container, and make sure to label it with your name. If it keeps happening, ask, in a non-accusatory manner, if anyone has seen your food items. This usually does the trick."
Unless you work alone, you are bound to hit an awkward spot at work at some point, if you haven't already. Keep your cool, keep it professional, and keep the peace.
- Advice for your awkward workplace dilemmas - Marketplace ›
- The Different Kinds Of Awkward Situations At Workplace | Engagedly ›
- Capital - How to avoid awkward conversations at work - BBC ›
- How to Deal with Social Awkwardness At Work | Keep Your Calm ›
- Top 10 Uncomfortable Situations and How to Deal with Them ›
- How to Handle Uncomfortable Situations at Work | On Careers | US ... ›
- Handling Uncomfortable Situations in the Workplace ›
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!