Yesterday I was taking the elevator down from the 5th floor to head out for lunch. A co-worker who works on the 6th floor was already in the elevator. I know that she works for my company, but I don't know her past that.

While in the elevator she out of nowhere says "It seems like I always get the freight elevator. I know a I am a big girl, but is someone trying to tell me something"? I responded with a uncomfortable laugh, and replied "Yeah, me too". The situation made me feel very uncomfortable.

After thinking about it, I though that next time my best bet would be to ignore the comment. But in this particular case, because she knew who I was, I didn't think I could without being rude and nor could I get away. And the look on her face made me think I did not do such a good job in this scenario.

In the future, how could I handle a situation like this where someone is making a self deprecating uncomfortable comment and I don't have the ability to get away? I would prefer to make the situation easier on me as I am not the most social person, and the other person if possible as a secondary goal.

(Without offending or seeming rude.)

1 Answer 1


As a Scotsman, self-depreciating humour is something I run into often. It's also not unheard of to speak to near-strangers when stuck in a small space together. This might not apply to your country or culture, but the following might help.

Judge their expression and return it. If they openly laugh for example, then laugh a little yourself. This way, you at least acknowledge the remark without it coming across as completely agreeing with them. They'll likely think it an impulsive response, as laughing often is when someone else does it.

If it's about a potentially delicate subject, such as a person's weight, I've found the best thing to do is divert the brief conversation away from a direct response. This way, you come across as friendly without risking any offence. For example, I was once in an elevator with a large fellow colleague. The chat went a bit like this:

Him (laughing): "Designed to fit six people in these things? Good luck with that, eh? I bet I add like, four, to that total! Ha!"

Me (after a small laugh): "They seemed to have forgotten we move chairs, servers and stuff up and down here. Took us the whole morning to furnish that new meeting room!"

Him: "Yeah, good luck getting all your gear up in one go!"

Me: "Bet the boss will be having words when we get a new office..."

Elevator talk is typically without any real purpose. With the approach above, I kept the conversation going without acknowledging the other person's own humorous (if possibly true) remark. Sure enough, the conversation went completely forgotten until now. Hope it helps!

  • 8
    Elevator talk is typically without any real purpose -- this is the part I forgot.
    – user1856
    Jun 8, 2018 at 15:25

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