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How Not to Die of Embarrassment

How Not to Die of Embarrassment

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes embarrassment as:

“The state of feeling foolish in front of others.”[1]

I’m sure you’ve experienced this state many times. (I certainly have!)

Just think of the times when you’ve tripped in public. You tried to look cool about it – but inside you probably felt a whole load of embarrassment.

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Do You Know There Are Actually 6 Types of Embarrassments?

You may not have given it any thought, but embarrassing situations can actually be divided into six types. (These types are caused by ourselves, environmental factors, or other people.)

You’ll likely recognize all six types. Starting with…

  1. Privacy violations – This happens to celebrities a lot. For example, intimate photos are stolen and then shared online for all to see.
  2. Lack of knowledge and skill – Do you recall that difficult interview, when your lack of knowledge left you speechless?
  3. Awkward acts – A recent example of this, is when the BBC was conducting a live interview with Professor Robert E. Kennedy. During the interview, both of his young children inadvertently came into his home office – and into full view of the camera!
  4. Criticism and rejection – An obvious example of this type of situation, is asking someone out on a date. You’ve built up all your strength and confidence, but this is quickly smashed to smithereens when the other person turns down your invite. Face-to-face, this can be a highly embarrassing situation – for both parties.
  5. Appropriate image – Teenagers are particularly susceptible to this. Either they are embarrassed by their body, or embarrassed by their lack of trendy clothes and belongings (e.g. the latest iPhone).
  6. Environment – This can take place when you’re watching a movie with your parents. Everything is going well, and you’re enjoying the movie, until… suddenly an ‘adult’ scene begins to take place! You don’t know where to look – or what to say. You just hope and pray that the scene will finish soon!

As you can see from the above examples, embarrassment is impossible to avoid in our lives.

However, there are ways to deal effectively with embarrassing situations. Let’s take a look at these now.

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How Not to Die of Embarrassment?

One of my friends has a speech impediment which causes him to stutter. While this could have led to him being embarrassed to speak in front of others, he’s never let this be the case (since I’ve known him). In fact, he’s actually a compelling and persuasive communicator.

Whatever the cause of your embarrassment, there’s likely to be a way that you can deal with it.

Read on to find out how….

Don’t Let the “Spotlight Effect” Blind You.

Researchers from Cornell University recently conducted several studies into how much our actions and appearance are noticed by others.[2] The studies revealed that most of us massively overestimate how much other people notice or remember our behaviours and appearance. It appears that most people are too busy being concerned about themselves, than to worry about other people. (I’m sure you know some colleagues or friends who fit this description.) In other words, your embarrassing situation is likely to go unnoticed, or at least be easily forgotten. (Great news!)

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Change the Channel.

You’ve been asked to introduce a colleague at your company’s annual sales conference. Unfortunately, nerves get the better of you – and you fail to remember your colleague’s name. It’s embarrassing, for sure. However, there is a simple trick to wiggle your way out of this situation. Turn the attention to your colleague (and away from yourself) by giving them a compliment such as: “One thing I do remember, is that my colleague has a much better memory than me!”

Stay Cool.

The questions just keep coming… And the interviewer seems determined to find out why you’re unsuitable for the job! In situations like this, you can quickly start to feel weak and embarrassed. The secret is to keep your cool. You can do this by making sure you control your breathing, that your answers are coherent (to the best of your ability), and to remind yourself that other interviewees will be receiving the same grilling as you! By keeping your poise, you’ll stave off embarrassment – and have a great chance of securing the job.

Laugh at Yourself.

At 2.10 meters tall, I often get people commenting on my height (several times a day, in fact). Sometimes this attention is welcome – other times it’s not. I usually deal with the latter by making a self-deprecating joke. For example, if I’m shopping in a supermarket, occasionally someone says to me: “With your height, you’d be great for filling the top shelves.” I’ve been known to reply with: “True, but I’d be useless for filling the bottom shelves!”

Stop Replaying the Embarrassment.

Embarrassing moments can haunt us for years. For instance, I’m sure you can recall events from your school life. Perhaps you answered a question incorrectly in class – and everyone laughed at you. This one incident may have led to you being reluctant to speak in front of the class again. In later life, you may have had issues with public speaking, etc. As you can see, it’s important to break free from embarrassing situations. You do this by accepting that they happened, but realizing that you’re now a different and stronger person. You can also learn to leave embarrassing situations behind by keeping your mental focus clearly on the now.

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Face the Problem and Solve It.

Imagine you’ve just knocked over your latte at the counter of your local café. The hot, frothy drink has gone everywhere! You’re definitely embarrassed by the situation. One way to deal with this, is to immediately begin clearing up the mess. This will help you detach from the incident, and instead, allow you to focus on resolving it. Not only will it make you happier – but the staff will probably thank you too!

I’ll be honest with you, there’s no magic formula that can protect you from experiencing embarrassment.

However, if you adopt the tips and techniques above, you’ll be able to deal confidently with all kinds of embarrassing situations. This could lead to a happier and more fulfilled life.

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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