Archive | 4:46 am

Duck, duck. Honk, honk.

19 Mar

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In January I attended a training seminar on effective confrontations to evaluate its content for my company.

The highlight of the two-day workshop  occurred when one of my tablemates was sharing a story with the entire group – gesturing somewhat wildly with her hands – and another tablemate stood up to get a glass of water.

In itself, that’s not that remarkable. But the way it played out, the woman talking ended one of her big gestures with her hand somehow (accidentally) cupping the other woman’s breast.

The best part is that they were so stunned at how everything had worked out, they both just froze and stared at the hand on the breast.

I was thinking, “All right! Finally – a real life situation that requires confronting! I wonder how she’ll handle it?”

The woman who was standing to get water, who was funny and reminded me of Melissa McCarthy’s character in Bridesmaids said, “Hey there. Not what I was standing up to get!”

And the other woman  said, “Now this is suddenly very awkward.”

Everyone else cracked up.

And that’s when I confirmed something I’d long suspected: Humor is a great way to defuse an awkward situation.

So the next time someone at work is under-performing and it requires a confrontation, I’m going to remember to just grab him or her inappropriately in public. Because then I’ll be able to say, “Wow, this is sure awkward,” and then, when we’re both laughing I’ll say, “Now, seriously, I really need to talk to you about X.”

And they’ll be like, “What a relief. I’m glad it’s just a performance issue.”

DISCLAIMER: I do not suggest anyone actually practice the technique I’m proposing here. And in case any HR representatives are reading my blog: Don’t worry, I know that this is not the appropriate way to handle a performance issue. I know it’s a lot more effective to simply send a heated email to the person with a performance plan attached.

AMENDED DISCLAIMER: OK. Apparently sending a performance plan via email without a discussion is NOT the best way to handle a situation effectively. I wish someone had told me that in 2001, when I once made an entire office line up by a fax machine in alphabetical order so I could fax over their performance plans to them “discreetly.”

FINAL DISCLAIMER: Apparently this training sucked because I’m now “under investigation” for my “management practices.” I’d like a refund, please. 

FOR-REAL DISCLAIMER: Now you know why I won’t accept your friend requests on Facebook, HR.

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