Putting Out the Fire of Embarrassment

Embarrassing Situation

Embarrassment can cause you to forget your etiquette-ful self.  It distracts you and sets you up for even more. But it can also present learning opportunities.

Recently I was late to a Zoom call which was important for my work.  The email with the link to sign on was on my desktop, but in my rush, I accidentally deleted the link.  With some help, seven minutes later I signed into the Zoom meeting with a person was interested in hiring me for a sponsored event. To say I was embarrassed was an understatement!

My mind was filled with distracting thoughts making it difficult to focus on the questions at hand.  I was fortunate, as the person simply denied my embarrassment by defending me.  He was my champion of the moment.  Soon the conversation was on its way, and it ended well. 

In the Heat of Embarrassment

When you’re embarrassed, you can be pulled away from your authentic self.  You might feel as if you’ve done something wrong, feel rejected, or as if you are not trusted.  You catch yourself in real or imagined failure and it feels too late to turn around.  Or you interpret something someone said and jump into self-criticism.  Your body feels hot. 

When you find yourself in the heat of embarrassment, there is a strategy for overcoming it.

  • Give yourself a pause and breathe.
  • Stand up tall and look at others directly as you smile.
  • Apologize if you’ve made a mistake of judgment.

The most important thing is to move past that heat moment and get on with your best self.

Turn Embarrassing Conversations Around

We all have experiences of, “I can’t believe I said that!”  But we are human and so there are times when . . . we’re going to say that.

Though the words we say might make us wish for invisibility, we can also use our words to repair a situation.

  • In conversation, you get stuck in a little fib you’ve told.
    “I made a mistake by saying that and actually, I’m not sure why I said it.”
  • You say, without thinking, “Nice to meet you,” and the person responds, “Oh, we’ve met more than once.”  Say, “I’m sorry, it’s nice to see you.”
  • Said something ridiculously silly or out of line?  Add on with, “Well, I need a life raft to the Island of Tact.”  People will laugh, and you’ll be back into the stream of conversation.

Embarrassment is nothing unique.  We all have felt it.  We just need a few reminders to help us feel safe and know that this is a common feeling.  Since other people are mostly thinking of themselves, when you make a social mistake, it oftentimes makes you more relatable.

Owning your feelings and acknowledging the embarrassing situation will help you through it. Every so often, self-deprecating humor is okay, too.  As you slip off your chair, “Well, I’m not as well-seated as I thought I’d be.”  Just remember to always end everything in kindness to yourself and others.

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