How to Deal with Uncomfortable, Awkward Encounters

July 23, 2019 Martha Lueck

How do you deal with those uncomfortable, awkward encounters with people from our past? We all have people who made us feel uncomfortable in the past. What happens when we run into these people after not seeing them for a long time? To learn about how to deal with uncomfortable, awkward encounters, read this article.

Every Awkward Encounter Is Different

Not every encounter with a former enemy has to be awkward or negative. Of course, the mere sight of someone can provoke unpleasant memories. But if you simply see someone and avoid any type of interaction, you may not have to see the person again. So the memories do not have to interfere with your life long-term.

On the other hand, you might find yourself in an uncomfortable, awkward encounter where you will have to see a toxic person every day. Perhaps you will become neighbors or classmates with that person. This can be a very difficult situation, but there are ways to handle it.

Some ways to deal with daily awkward encounters include the following:

  • Keep a physical distance with the other person as much as possible.
  • If the person approaches you, be firm in setting clear boundaries ("Speaking Out for Yourself: A Self-Help Guide").
  • Consult with a trusted loved one or someone else who regularly encounters the person who makes you feel uncomfortable. Be sure to explain how this person has triggered your discomfort.
  • If this person makes unwanted advances, or if you simply feel that it is necessary, call the police.
  • If you see the person, but he or she does not see you, avoid eye contact at all costs.

The aforementioned list of ways to deal with awkward encounters might seem obvious, but they are not always easy to follow. It can be especially hard when you are completely caught off guard by the encounter.

My Awkward Encounter with a Former Coworker

Back in 2013, I was harassed by a male coworker. Even after I had reported it to my manager, no action was taken. Instead of reporting my situation to the police, I asked my other coworkers to protect me until I could find another job. Eventually, my harasser quit. After that, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought I would never have to see him again.

To my dismay, I recently found out that my harasser moved into my apartment building. Not only are we living in the same building, but we are in a transitional living program together. I informed the program staff about him, and I will do everything I can to avoid contact with him.

What uncomfortable, awkward encounter have you experienced? How did you handle it?

APA Reference
Lueck, M. (2019, July 23). How to Deal with Uncomfortable, Awkward Encounters, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Author: Martha Lueck

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Lizanne Corbit
July, 28 2019 at 11:11 pm

Thank you for sharing this post here. It's so important for us to feel that we have these safe platforms to connect and dialogue about topics like these. I'm so glad you've informed the staff and are feeling secure in this new situation. I think your suggestions are spot on and so helpful for people to have.

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