TODAY

TODAY   |  July 31, 2013

How to navigate awkward, unexpected run-ins

It’s happened to all of us: Just when you think you’re safe, you run into that one person you’re not ready to see. Whether it’s an ex-flame or someone whose name you just can’t remember, etiquette expert Anna Post offers advice on how to deal.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we are kicking off a special three-day series on how not to be awkward. first up, that dreaded run in with someone you'd rather avoid. we've all seen it coming in slow motion . a forced conversation with the one person you're not ready for.

>> i throw my head in a ponytail and no make up and that's when i see the ex-boyfriend or his new girlfriend.

>> awkward.

>> maybe it's a run in with chatty cathy .

>> if you run into one of the talkers you go i have places to go. i don't want to sit there and listen to their whole life story for the next ten minutes.

>> or a case of the ex .

>> there's always the awkward oh, hey, it's good to see you but you know they don't mean it.

>> awkward.

>> sometimes it's an ambush by someone you don't recognize.

>> not knowing someone's name is incredibly awkward, especially when they know you.

>> i just hope they don't force me to try to say their name because, honestly i don't remember.

>> all you know is there is no escape.

>> the point of no return from an interaction that you really don't want to have is when you make eye contact with that person.

>> so should you meet the run in head on? or hide, deflect, and avoid?

>> just a little hand wave but keep walking.

>> i did the duck and hide from my boss.

>> you pull out the smartphone and look down and just start talking and pretend that you're on the phone with your head phones in.

>> it's good to hear all of her secrets because now i'll know.

>> what do you do at that awkward moment? anna is an expert. we're walking down the street. this is where the runs in happen. is it socially acceptable to totally ignore someone you do know.

>> if they have seen you you should do your best for a smile and wave . if they haven't seen you, it's up to you.

>> so you can overt your eyes and try to scatter.

>> that can happen.

>> we did a poll on our website. 64% of our viewers would acknowledge and keep walking. 13% said they would say hello and want to have a chat. 23% said i pretend i don't see them. does that surprise you.

>> no. it doesn't. we're busy. we might not have time and if it's awkward, those 13% are brave souls.

>> some situations are more awkward than others. let's start with there's someone you can't place. this is the i don't remember your name. i know i know you but how. what do you do then?

>> if you're in the conversation bite the bullet and say i'm sorry i'm forgetting your name right now or help me place you.

>> what do you do, though, if you do get the name wrong? you drop a jenny bomb and it's actually susie.

>> right. i'm so sorry. i don't know what i was thinking. of course. that's it.

>> you run into your ex. this is awkward with a capital a. what do you do?

>> it's up to you. if you want to dodge behind a trash can that's okay by me.

>> depends on the nature of the break up, right?

>> it does. try to at least smile and acknowledge and say hello, how are you. you can leave it at that.

>> what about a co-worker or a boss. you can't ignore that person but maybe they don't want to chitchat.

>> the higher up the chain it goes the shorter i would keep the conversation or the less well they know you.

>> the last one is the chatty cathy . you sit down with someone you know and they want to talk the whole time. what do you do?

>> in this case you can always do well it's been great chatting, the well, or the listen when you start talking that queues people that we're wrapping up now and then just smile and exit.

>> it's been great to talk to. i have another segment to get to. how was that?

>> thank you.

>> good.

>> and tomorrow on how not to be awkward, the close encounters when you get to people too close in areas like in elevators you can't