Facebook Pixel

How To Handle Awkward Social Situations

Rate This

More Videos from Howdini 30 videos in this series

We've all been there - forgetting someone's name at a party, getting stuck with the check, or having to fend off unwanted sexual advances. So what are you supposed to do? Sarah Ivens, former editor of OK! Magazine, and author of numerous modern etiquette guides offers advice to help us through awkward social situations.

LISA: For howdini.com I’m Lisa Birnbach. What if you are having an awkward night, everything goes wrong, and your social life is unraveling in front of your eyes. And your out with people from work, what do you do? Sarah Ivens is here she is the editor-in-chief of Ok in America and the author of many modern etiquette books. Sarah you forget somebody’s name and you can’t rebound from that, what do you do?

SARAH: Fess up I mean just admit it. Cause I’ve been out with people and its so embarrassing, people have forgotten my name, there standing on the other side of me saying, “Daring have you met honey bun,” its so embarrassing. We all know what’s going on so just fess up. Say I’m really sorry I can’t remember. If you can, remember any fact about them to make them feel special. “I remember you from Ohio, but what you name?” Anything-just fess up, say I’m really, really sorry I’ve forgotten your name. What’s your name again, and listen and use their name back in conversations a few times. I mean not, “How are you Lisa? I love you Lisa? Goodnight Lisa?” I mean don’t go mad. Try and use and introduce them to a few people in the next few minutes. Think of something that maybe connects their name to something you remember about them. That will make it easy like a trigger, like if their name is Rose, that’s an easy one you can think of a rose. Any little tricks like that is good, but just be honest about it, don’t start using a strange nickname.

LISA: If you notice someone can’t remember you name you should bail them out.

SARAH: Help them out-

LISA: Do not let them struggle.

SARAH: I’m ah, all for even if there is three seconds of, “Oh this is my friend….” I’m Sarah. You know like just be open and go for it, you know. We’re too worried about stuff like that I think.

LISA: Right, no that could be bad. Now here’s another terrible situation, you’re out to dinner with a group, and nobody picks up the tab. And that was awkward, and you weren’t counting on that being the host for the dinner.

SARAH: Absolutely, I mean there are a few rules here. If you’ve asked everyone out for dinner you, if you’ve made any implication with the invitation that you would be…that I would love to treat you all. Or its my birthday, I’m going to take my best friends out, or anything like that, then they have reason to think your paying. If you haven’t, you’ve just suggested that we should all get together and go out or whatever then it’s down to everyone to pay their share. Absolutely, so if people aren’t putting their hands in their pocket, which is a pet peeve of mine, it’s so mean and petty. Number one you shouldn’t go out with these kinds of people.

LISA: There not good friends.

SARAH: But you know that wouldn’t help you out on the night, so on the night take charge be quite bossy. Just say all right the checks here everyone, should I pay my fare. You know be bossy. I’ll be mother, does anyone have a calculator, ask someone else, “Doe’s anyone have a calculator on their mobile phone, you know.

LISA: Should we just split this four ways, that kind of thing right?

SARAH: Yes, and don’t just sit there looking at it, worrying cause that’s not going to get anyone anywhere. You know, really just take charge, be bossy.

LISA: That’s not the end of the world. That’s not the most embarrassing situation.

SARAH: No, and you know what they should be more embarrassed.

LISA: They won’t be. They won’t be.

SARAH: They won’t will they. Then again going back to point one don’t be friends with these people.

LISA: Okay, what if somebody grabs the check, but you really want to be the host of the dinner?

SARAH: If someone wants to pay offer twice, I mean that’s my rule. You go, all get this, are you sure, I don’t mind, no I’ll get it. If you’re sure, I was expecting to pay for this blah blah blah. If you try offer twice, and they still say no I insist, that is it stop struggling. You don’t want a tug of war in a restaurant over a check. You don’t its embarrassing. So accept graciously, and say thank you, say thank you at the time. And when your saying goodnights for the evening say thank you again. Just make a mental not and you will treat them next time. Its fine let them pay.

LISA: That’s not, that’s not that big a deal, here is a big deal. You’re out at a party or at a dinner, out anywhere, or in, and your friend’s boyfriend, fiancé, husband starts flirting with you. Then what do you do?

SARAH: That’s embarrassing; really I mean just shut them down. Be all about your friend. If someone goes, “Hey you look hot this evening” not as hot as your wife you lucky thing. She’s my best friend and she’s beautiful. You know, really back, everything back to your friend everything back. I mean it inappropriate and uncomfortable, just walk away, who cares you know.

LISA: Now if this kind of thing happens repeatedly, or if you found out that this same guy is hitting on other people, should you ever tell your friend?

SARAH: This is a nightmare isn’t it? I’ve had it happen to me once before and luckily my friend took it seriously, and she is now married to someone else who is lovely. Yes, you don’t want to be the tattletale who goes around causing trouble all the time. But if has happened a few times, its happened to other women, it’s gone beyond “Your looking sexy.” If it’s gone beyond that, it could be a drunk flirty guy trying to boost your confidence. Or him calling a suggesting you go out to coffee together. If this starts happening then you really have to tell your friend. And don’t put anything out there, just give her he facts, I think your husband is a #$*^ &^%. Be like, he called me randomly today to go for coffee, what’s that about? Put it out there. Don’t add your opinion just put out the facts.

LISA: Uhh ohh. Okay Sarah, thank you. For howdini I’m Lisa Birnbach.

Howdini is life’s little instruction manual, in HD. We’re all about bringing together the top, most respected experts in their fields to help us be the best we can be at all of the little and not-so-little challenges of our complicated lives. Howdini is the place to be for the know-how you want, when you need it. Or maybe it’s the know-how you need, when you want it. Whatever. We’re here to help. So come in and look around, won’t you?

We think you’ll love finding everything you want to learn about in one convenient place, and as we grow and add more categories and more Howdinis, you’ll be doing less surfing and more learning right here. And unlike television, Howdinis aren’t limited by time—we don’t have to break for commercials, and we’re always on.

Who is Howdini?

People often ask us, is there an actual person who is Howdini? And the answer is, it’s kind of like Lassie. Just as there were many Lassies, there are many individuals who are called Howdini. In fact, each of our experts is a Howdini, and, like all those Lassies, they really know their tricks. (Although so far there is no ‘How to tell your master that Timmy is trapped in the old abandoned mine’ segment)

Our gurus are people you know and trust because you’ve been getting advice from them for years, at places like Good Morning America, The Today Show, Money, Prevention, and Food and Wine (to name just a few). Many are best-selling authors. Others, like our medical experts, are respected leaders in their fields.

Howdini History

The first Howdini was Joanna Breen, who left a comfortable career at ABC’s 20/20 to create a how to video website after one too many frustrating experiences with handymen who weren’t that handy. Joanna had traveled the world reporting with Barbara Walters and others on injustice, outrage, and tragedy, but now it was time to turn her talents to dealing with crises closer to home, like what do you do if you drop your diamond ring down the drain. Joanna is the quintessential can-do girl, so she didn’t find the prospect of launching a gigantic website the least bit daunting. (Ok, that last part isn’t entirely true.)

Joanna convinced an old ABC News buddy, Shelley Lewis, to join her. Shelley had supervised roughly 9.7 million helpful how to segments during a long career executive producing television shows like Good Morning America and CNN’s American Morning. A self-described “info-pig” who loves all kinds of information programming, she is never happier than when she’s learning an amazing new tip that she can annoy share with everyone she knows. Needless to say, Howdini was a dream gig for her. A career woman, a wife, a mother, and author of two books, Shelley considers herself equally challenged by all the facets of her life.

Joanna and Shelley were introduced to marketing executive Alison Provost by a mutual friend who knew that Alison had what they needed - entrepreneurial experience, patience, and a checkbook that still had checks in it. Joanna and Shelley could see right away that Alison should join Howdini. They figured that they would take care of the programming, and Alison would bring trustworthy sponsors to help pay the bills. It took Alison significantly longer to be convinced, maybe because she was crazy busy running a marketing firm called PowerPact, which she continues to oversee while serving as the biggest of big cheeses at Howdini. But whether it’s playing Suduko or launching a new business in a field she knows little about, Alison loves the challenge of a good puzzle, It wasn’t long before she began dropping obscure internet terms like “user-interface” and “googlebot” into casual conversation.

What’s Next for Howdini?

Our goals are modest. Complete and total domination of the internet, crushing Google, Microsoft, and any other punks who get in our way. (Hey, it’s a just a goal.) But until then, we will content ourselves making the best, most professional, most credible how to videos you can find anywhere. We want to help you solve your career issues, your parenting problems, your money troubles. We want you to be more glamorous, healthier, and less stressed out. We want you to check Howdini every day for fun, interesting, useful advice from experts you know and trust.

We want to make Howdini the community you love to be part of every day, To do that, we need to hear from you. Please share your suggestions, rate and comment on the Howdini videos, and the blog, (The Howdini blog). Tell us what you’d like us to create for you.

And then, when we’ve achieved that, it’s back to working on complete and total domination of the internet.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

Social Phobia

Get Email Updates

Related Topics

Social Phobia Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!