Dear Auntie Etiquette,
I was walking into a meeting with one of my colleagues (she‘s a mature woman and I am a younger man) and when I looked over, I could see her stocking tops showing (the lacey part). Now, there were potential clients coming into this meeting, and this is out of character for her. What should I do when it is something that personal? Tell her quietly or say nothing? I’m worried it could get me in trouble. Could it could get me in trouble?
the Platonic but Awkward Co-worker
That’s a good one! The short answer is yes. It’s always best alert the potentially embarrassed party to prevent the spread of discomfort. People would rather know, especially, if it’s something that personal and she’s not the type to be showing that much leg in a business meeting. Though, I can understand your trepidation, especially with sexual harassment in the workplace being grounds for dismissal. My advice is tell her, just be respectful, subtle and discreet. Better you’re both momentarily embarrassed, having the conversation, then she conquers the meeting, walks out into the world feeling unstoppable, then gets to a mirror and realizes the embarrassment that nobody told her she was showing more than a PowerPoint presentation.
This lesson also applies to anything stuck in teeth, holes in crotches, food that’s been dropped down the front of clothing, anything embarrassing, that by acknowledging you can *hopefully* prevent further embarrassment.
Now, how to deal with this; I recommend a compliment sandwich.
- make eye contact – the bread
- lead with compliment – cheese
- express concern – sauerkraut
- offer aid – corned beef
- then smile and compliment them on mastering the misstep – the bread,
See, it’s a sandwich, a delicious, delicious compliment sandwich. In no time, you’ll be laughing about this sauerkraut, I mean embarrassment, and *fingers crossed* avoid the dreaded HR meeting re: appropriate inter-office relationships. Stay Savy, Platonic but Awkward Co-worker!
Yours in Eternal Improvement,