The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes embarrassment as:
“The state of feeling foolish in front of others.”
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.
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…
- Privacy violations – This happens to celebrities a lot. For example, intimate photos are stolen and then shared online for all to see.
- Lack of knowledge and skill – Do you recall that difficult interview, when your lack of knowledge left you speechless?
- 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!
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
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. 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!)
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!”
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.
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.
|Psych Your Mind: The Spotlight Effect or You’re the Only One Who Knows You’re Having a Bad Hair Day