Lauren Conrad Buys Steph A One-Way Ticket To Awkwardville

Makeup-stained tears? Check. Dramatic scene right in the middle of People's Rev? Check. Humiliating recap of the whole disaster for Heidi Montag? Big fat check.

Yep, Stephanie Pratt's firing might've been quick, but it certainly wasn't painless. In fact, on an awkwardness scale from 1-10 (1 being No Biggie and 10 being The Most Shameful Moment Of Your Life), we'd say Steph's tearful exit weighs in at a solid 8.7.

And while LC did her best to downplay the embarrassment factor (kudos for leaving out the phrase "worst employee ever!"), we came up with a few more ways she could've maybe minimized the shock. And that would be:

+ Not firing Stephanie in the office. C'mon, why boot Steph in front of all her (former) coworkers when you could've pulled a Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire? Anyone? Anyone??) and taken her out to lunch instead? Hey, if you're gonna get fired, you should at LEAST get a free meal out of it. Preferably one that ends in margaritas/toasting to never having to hear Kelly Cutrone's scratchy, nails-on-chalkboard voice again.

+ Not waiting a week to deliver the bad news. There's no good time to fire someone, but Lauren could've let her down easy (okay, fine, easier) by doing it asap. Remember, Steph was already braced for bad news after the photo shoot debacle. By waiting a few days, LC gave her time to catch her breath, making the inevitable letdown all the more painful/unexpected.

+ Not telling Steph's mortal enemy about it first. It's no secret that Brody Jenner has it out for Spencer's sis. (Dude made her cry. The awful, hiccuping/gulping kind. Twice.) So why go to him for an I-told-you-so pep talk before doing the deed? Fact: the only thing worse then getting the heave-ho from an unpaid internship(!) is finding out you were the last to know. And seeing the smug look on Brody's face when he found out. Before you.

+ Think Stephanie and Lauren will be able to bounce back from Operation: Pink Slip? Take our poll, then tell us whether you think LC should feel guilty (or not)!