Awkward at Work: The Long Hall


If you’ve ever met me you might have noticed I have tendencies towards being awkward. The human systems that usually work together to create communication don’t always work together so well in my case (brain and mouth for instance). This is especially apparent in the workplace. One of my least favorite situations there is the long hallway.

Here’s how it goes: I enter the end of a long hall way at about the same time that a coworker enters the other end. (Worst case scenario has this coworker being someone I know, but not that well.) So I notice this person and they notice me, now what? ETA until we pass the could be just 15 seconds but it feels like minutes – either way it’s too long to hold eye contact and too far to make conversation. I start to panic a little and begin looking for things to look at that aren’t the oncoming target. That poster on the wall with the company mission statement suddenly becomes so interesting to me that I seem to be reading every word – but what I should be doing is thinking of something to say. They’re getting close now, should I speak first? No, I intently look in the doorway of the empty conference room as I pass it, there must be something to save me in there (never is). I hear a “How’s it going?” directed at me and look up to make eye contact just in time to blurt out “how you do” because I realize I can’t also say “how’s it going” because that would be weird but I’ve already started changing it halfway through the sentence. Damn brain and mouth fail me again and I hastily take the first turn out of the hallway to retreat to my desk and swear never to let that happen again…but it always does.