Thursday, September 17, 2009

Awkward Office Moments

Awkward moments happen to us all – that is just part of life. How we handle those situations is what really matters. But sometimes, you just have to go with the flow.

At the office the other day, and it isn’t all that uncommon to go over to someone’s desk to ask a question, or huddle around their computer to go through some work.

I was at one of the project manager’s desks, for a scheduled meeting. As a

Management of ComplexityImage by michael.heiss via Flickr

lways, I arrived slightly early. I’m always early for everything, which surprisingly drives me nuts, as most people are always late.

One of the advantages of always arriving early is the ability to scout out the location, to get comfy, and put all my things (laptop, notepads, pens, papers) within easy reach. I also sometimes stumble upon things I probably wasn’t meant to see . . .

Back to arriving early for my meeting with one of our project managers – got to the project manager’s desk only to find this particular project manager surfing one of those online job boards for jobs in the project management field.

Not exactly something you want to be caught with on your work computer. It is almost as bad as being caught surfing the net for porn on your work computer, or chatting on Facebook, or tweeting on Twitter.

Those are all pretty bad, but looking for work, while you are at work is a definite no-no – it says to those around you that you don’t want to be where you are, and you’re looking for something else.

The project manager was startled by my arrival, and quickly closed the web browser open at the online job board, but the damage was done. We both knew what was on that screen only seconds ago.

The question – what happens next?

The project manager could have made an excuse about looking for a colleague or a friend – but there would always be the element of doubt on both our parts. I would have some doubts about the story being spun by the project manager, and the project manager would have some doubts about whether or not I trusted the story I was told.

I could have brushed it off and said something about how it is always good to keep your options open, but again, that opens up a can of rotten eggs.

We did what most people do in awkward situations – stay deathly still and quiet for a few moments – which usually seem like hours – until something or

James, I think your cover's blown!Image by laverrue via Flickr

someone breaks the ice, taking us out of that moment.

Someone walked past briskly with a bunch of papers, and one of those papers fell – I bent down, picked it up and handed it back to the rushed person. Then I turned to the project manager and we talked briefly about how our days were going.

That awkward moment was gone, and we were back to work mode – thanks to a completely uninvolved passerby.

Though situations like this are easy to avoid – no matter what you think of your job, never look for a new one at the office. You never know who may find out you don’t want to be there.

That poor project manager probably thinks I’m going to mention this to someone – another co-worker, a manager, or worse, the project manager’s manger. I won’t – this time. Perhaps being caught in the act (so-to-speak) will prevent this project manager from surfing for a job while on the job.

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