Embarrassing Etiquette Blunders: What Would You Do?

Posted by nancymueller
Posted on August 9, 2010
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  • Your colleague extends his arm across the dining table to shake hands with a client to whom he has just been introduced. As he does so, he notices your horrified look as you and your co-workers look down below your colleague’s beltline. He follows your gaze only to discover that he has inadvertently immersed his tie into his glass of water.

a)  □ Snicker quietly and seek to distance yourself as much as possible so     that the client won’t associate you with your colleague.

b)  □ Divert the client’s attention by pointing out the lovely table presentation.

c)  □ Discretely offer your colleague a napkin without mentioning the incident and step in to welcome to the client on behalf of your team.

  • As you open a small plastic container of cream for your coffee, the cream shoots out of the package and down the front of your colleague’s silk blouse.

a) □  Apologize profusely several times and try rubbing the cream off the blouse as quickly as possible.

b) □ Look the other way and pretend you didn’t see anything happen.

c)  □ Apologize profusely and offer to pay your colleague’s dry cleaning bill.

  • You accidently receive an e-mail from a colleague in which he made critical remarks about your performance, but which he had intended to send to another co-worker.

a)   □ Delete the e-mail without mentioning it to either party.

b)   □ Wait to bring up the incident in front of your colleague and boss at the

next team meeting.

c)   □ Let your colleague know that you received the e-mail and ask to talk

about the incident together.

How you choose to respond in each of these unexpected predicaments determines what happens next in your relationships. If your answer was “c” in each of the situations, you are well on your way to building positive, mutually rewarding relationships.


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