Headbloom Blog

What to Say When Things Aren’t in Place
We’ve all been in this public situation. Some person—a co-worker, a client, or a stranger—has “something wrong” with his/her appearance. You notice his pants zipper is down. She has spinach on her teeth. What do you do? What do you say?

There are two ways of thinking about this problem. One is, “It’s not my problem. I won’t say anything.” The second one asks, “Would I want someone to tell me if I were in this situation?”

My niece told me a (now) funny story about an embarrassment that happened to her. Two years ago, she was working in an office building and went to use the restroom. Upon leaving the women’s room, she failed to notice that she had tucked part of her dress into the top of her panty hose. She spent the next hour working as if nothing was wrong. Finally, a customer pointed out the wardrobe malfunction—something she was both horrified and grateful to hear. If, like my niece, your answer to the above question is yes, there are specific ways to express “what’s wrong” in English.

image Source: Fotolia

Awkward Situations out in Public
Below are a dozen awkward situations. Some of them have happened to you. Can you match the following 12 words with the appropriate advice below? (Answers are given at the end.)

A. paper
B. lace
C. spot
D. shirt
E. button
F. booger (dried nose mucus)
G. teeth
H. fly (zipper)
I. cheek
J. food
K. loop
L. tag

image Source: Fotolia

1. Your _____ is sticking up in back.
2. You missed a belt _____ (in the back).
3. Your shoe _____ is untied.
4. Your _____ is untucked (in the back).
5. Your _____ is open.
6. You have something (some spinach, etc.) in your _____.
7. You have a _____ hanging out.
8. You have a _____ unbuttoned.
9. You have something (some _____) in your beard.
10. You have something (some dirt) on your _____ (or chin).
11. You have a _____ on your shirt (blouse, top, etc.).
12. You have some toilet _____ stuck to your shoe.

image Source: Flickr
image Source: Fotolia

I suggest you show this list to your American friends and ask whether they would point out any of these situations to someone in public. Maybe it depends on who is involved: a close friend vs. a stranger vs. your boss. This can be an interesting conversation.

And before you head out the door today, check yourself in the mirror!

image Source: Fotolia

1. tag
2. loop
3. lace
4. shirt
5. fly
6. teeth
7. booger
9. food
10. cheek
11. spot
12. paper

Alan Headbloom