This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Ema Ostarcevic, Salt Lake City division director of the staffing firm OfficeTeam (with more than 320 locations worldwide), says it's best not to dwell on an embarrassing moment or you'll risk drawing even more negative attention to yourself.
What are some of the most embarrassing work moments found in your survey?
We interviewed 1,300 senior managers, and wardrobe malfunctions proved to be the leading cause of discomfort. Slips-ups in front of the boss and office accidents followed closely behind with responses such as:
• "I called my boss 'my love' by complete accident."
• "I fell off a chair while talking to my boss."
• "I slammed my foot into the copy machine and had to be taken to the emergency room."
• "I stapled one of my fingers with the stapler while I was assisting an employee.
Other embarrassing moments mentioned included getting locked in the office, fainting before a client and voice mail from a spouse going to a boss.
Tell us more about wardrobe malfunctions?
In our survey, examples included skits getting stuck in pantyhose, wearing two different shoes, wearing bathroom slippers to work and unzipped pants.
Give some good recovery strategies.
Remain calm. It's easy to lose your nerve after a slip-up, but try to maintain composure. Take a deep breath and collect yourself. Own up. Acknowledging a blunder before someone else does can help alleviate awkward tension. If appropriate, address the situation in a humorous way to make everyone feel at ease. Make amends. If your accident affected another person, immediately apologize and take steps to ensure a similar mistake does not happen again. And move on. Rather then dwell on a misstep, focus on getting back on track. The faster you recover, the less memorable the incident will be.
Talk more about using humor to save the day?
Regardless of whether you're the most refined person alive, work blunders can and will happen. Humor can help you recover from an uncomfortable situation, while making you more accessible and approachable to your boss and colleagues. Just be mindful of the frequency of its use, and make sure not to use it when inappropriate, as it can backfire.
Dawn House Ema Ostarcevic, executive