Advertising
Advertising

The Ultimate Guide to Dealing With Every Embarrassing Moment in Life

The Ultimate Guide to Dealing With Every Embarrassing Moment in Life

Think back to when you were at school. Most of the time, you probably enjoyed learning new things and having fun with your friends.

However, you almost certainly encountered some cringeworthy, embarrassing moments.

Like the time when a teacher asked you a simple question in front of the class – but you answered it wrongly. Your classmates began sniggering, before quickly shifting to uncontrollable laughter! Despite the teacher telling them to be quiet, the damage was done. You made yourself look like a fool in front of your class. And your obvious embarrassment was written all over your face.

On an subconscious level, this frightful experience is likely to be still impacting you today.

Most of the embarrassing moments that plague our lives fall into six categories:[1]

1. Privacy. You’re getting changed in your bedroom when someone opens the door without knowing you are there. As you’re only half dressed – you’re hugely embarrassed by the incident.

2. Lack of knowledge and skill. You’re feeling confident that your interview for a dream job is going well. Suddenly, however, you’ve been posed a question about a skill you’ve listed on your resume. The interviewer knows a lot about the skill, and it’s clear that you don’t!

3. Criticism and rejection. You’ve gone to your local bank to see if you can arrange a car loan. The adviser spends a long time collating your financial details and asking you questions about your intended car purchase. After 30 minutes with you, the adviser says that everything looks okay, but she just needs to run a credit check. It was all going well until then. Unfortunately, the credit check reveals that you’re not entitled to a loan from the bank. You feel defeated and embarrassed.

4. Awkward acts. Your friend has just bought a new apartment, and they’ve asked you to come along to their housewarming party. You turn up with a bottle of wine and some chocolates. The party is going great until disaster strikes… You’ve knocked over your glass of red wine, and it’s spilled all over the pure white carpet. Awkward, for sure!

5. Appropriate image. You’ve been invited to a theatre show by some work colleagues. You casually agreed to go, without paying too much attention to what the show was all about. On show day, you agree to meet your colleagues outside the theater. You’re running a little late, but that’s not the worst of it. When you arrive, you immediately see that everyone is dressed formally – and you’re in jeans and T-shirt. (That’s the last time you went to the opera!)

6. Environment. You’re a teenager. And you’re watching a movie at home with your parents. Between the drama and the action, the movie is proving to be a compelling watch. However… out of the blue, a graphic ‘adult’ scene begins to take place. It’s not just you that’s embarrassed by this – your parents clearly are too!

Advertising

Have you noticed that embarrassment hits most of us hard, but some people seem much more resilient?

I’m sure you’ve seen it happen. A young waiter is carrying several plates of food, but unfortunately trips and falls. The food goes everywhere, and the plates are smashed to smithereens. What could be more embarrassing than this? However, he looks completely unruffled by the incident, and instead, begins to calmly clean up the mess from the floor.

Impressive, for sure.

People who appear immune to embarrassment have a different mental outlook to most of us.

Firstly, they tend to be very self-confident people, who don’t easily feel shame or humiliation. They have powerful self-belief, and don’t allow themselves to be knocked down for long.

Secondly, they have a different perspective on mistakes. While you may regard mistakes as a bad thing, the ’embarrassment-immune’ minority sees mistakes as vital learning cues.

So, how can you become more like the above people?

Let’s start with the everyday embarrassing moments we all face and how we can tackle them.

Here are some of the most common embarrassing moments, and the best ways you can handle them.

Having your debit/credit card declined at a store…

It’s horrifying. You feel that you’ve been immediately judged by the people in the store.

Counteract this by looking and sounding confident, and saying something along the lines of: “My mistake, that card has actually expired. Here, please use this valid one.”

Falling on a treadmill…

This is both dangerous to your physical body – and to your ego!

Advertising

If you’re unfortunate to fall while using a treadmill, firstly, be sure to check that you’re not physically injured. If you’re okay, then you might want to make a joke about the incident with other gym members. You could say: “I think I was too quick for the treadmill!”

Asking if someone is pregnant – when they’re not…

This has happened to several of my colleagues and friends. They thought someone was pregnant, when really they had just put on weight (especially around the stomach area).

This scenario is humiliating for the person being asked, and hugely embarrassing for the person doing the asking.

My recommendation is to profusely apologize to the person in question, and then explain that you thought you’d heard that she was pregnant. Something like: “Oh, I’m sorry. The gossip in the office was that you were expecting. I’ll make sure the gossip stops.”

Listening to your stomach making groaning noises while you’re in a quiet meeting…

This happened to me. I’d skipped breakfast and was existing purely on coffee. However, my stomach clearly was expecting something more. I went into a meeting that was quiet (bordering on silent), and my stomach decided to make an appearance. Despite my best efforts, the groaning became louder and louder. Let’s just say, that I was relieved when the meeting was finally over!

This scenario can be dealt with in several ways.

Firstly, make sure that before going into a quiet zone (church, meeting, theater, etc.) that you’ve eaten a decent amount of food. Secondly, if your stomach has begun to make noises, you could choose to excuse yourself from the gathering and then quickly eat something. Lastly, if the noise from your stomach is not too bad, you could apologize to those around you by saying: “Sorry, I didn’t realize I was so hungry.”

Failing to open a door correctly…

I’m sure you’ve done this. Pulling a door when it should be pushed – or pushing a door when it should be pulled. It’s always a little embarrassing to do this, even though it happens frequently to most of us.

I’ve discovered a trick that prevents me from making this mistake. Before opening a door, I have a quick glance at the hinges at the top of the door. In most cases, this reveals which way the door opens.

However, if you still fail to open a door correctly, then redirect the attention away from you, by saying: “This door should really be marked with push and pull signs.”

Advertising

Realizing that you have coffee stains on your pants…

This happens to all of us from time to time. It can be coffee, tea or even chocolate. But the results are the same, an embarrassing stain on your pants – that you may not have even known about.

Practical ways to resolve this include changing your pants, or attempting to wipe off the offending stain.

From a psychological point of view, try to see this episode as nothing more than a humorous incident. It can be embarrassing – but it can also be funny. It’s purely dependent on your perspective. To make people laugh about it, say something like: “I might have to start wearing nappies again!”

Discovering that your phone is not on silent during an interview…

I remember my brother telling me a story about someone who interviewed at his company. The interviewee not only forgot to put his phone on silent – but actually took the call during the interview. He proceeded to speak with the caller for several minutes… while the interviewers looked on in amazement.

This guy wasn’t embarrassed (but he should have been!), but for most ordinary folks, a cellphone ringing during an interview is a nightmare scenario. It can make you look bad, and instantly knock your confidence.

Deal with this situation by always double-checking that your phone is on silent. If necessary, turn off your phone completely.

If the worst happens, then you need to move into damage limitation mode. You could apologize by saying: “I’m so sorry about that. I was sure I had put my phone on silent, but it appears that I was mistaken.”

Forgetting someone’s name when introducing them…

Have you experienced this issue in your life before? Unless you have a super-powered memory, then I’m sure you have.

If you can’t remember someone’s name when introducing them, then you have a couple of choices. You could say: “This is a colleague of mine from the Finance Department.” Alternatively, you could apologize for your memory loss, and say: “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name – can you remind me please?”

Deal with any potential embarrassment by not allowing your memory loss to destroy your self-confidence. You can also put the incident into perspective. (Forgetting a name is a relatively trivial matter.)

Advertising

Finding out that your shirt is covered in sweat patches…

The air conditioning in your office can’t handle the heat on a particularly hot day. Despite applying your usual antiperspirant, you’ve started to sweat profusely – and it’s now showing through your shirt.

This can definitely be embarrassing, as personal hygiene is expected in modern society.

What to do? Well, if you’re lucky enough to have a spare shirt, then you could change into this. You could also go home early, if homeworking is an option.

If you have to stay in the office with your sweat-stained shirt, then you’ll need to deal with it. Do this by stating to others that the office is so hot that it’s started to make you sweat (i.e., this is not a personal problem). You could say: “Crikey! It’s incredibly hot in here. I hardly ever sweat, but right now I’m feeling the effects of the heat.”

Choking on your food…

Picture going on a first date. You’ve spent several hours showering and grooming yourself. (You want to look and smell great.) You meet your prospective partner at the chosen restaurant, and both of you relax into some friendly conversation. Your food order arrives, and you take your first few bites… It could be nervousness or stress, but either way, the food goes down the wrong pipe – and you find yourself choking!

Definitely not the best look on a first date.

You could avoid this by making sure that you’re as relaxed as possible during the meal. You could even take smaller bites, and chew for longer than usual.

If it’s happened, and you’re choking on your food, the first thing is to clear the blockage. Once this is resolved, you need to find a way to overcome the embarrassment. Do this by making a joke of the incident: “That’ll teach me for being greedy!”

Embarrassing moments are waiting in the wings to spring upon you at the most unexpected times. However, once you begin to practice the tried and tested ways of dealing with embarrassment, then you’ll no longer fear these situations.

Reference

[1] Withers, Lesley; Sherblom, John. “Embarrassment: The Communication of an Awkward Actor Anticipating a Negative Evaluation”

More by this author

Craig J Todd

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

Need Morning Motivation? 30 Routines to Help You Start Afresh How to Connect With Someone Deeper Within a Short Time One Item That Is Often Absent in Resumes but Extremely Important: Soft Skills What to Do When You Hate Your Job (for Both Who Choose to Stay and Quit) 10 Best Wallets for Men and Women (with RFID-Blocking Technology)

Trending in Psychology

1 How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing 2 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 3 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected 4 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering 5 How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

    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

      Advertising

        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.

          Advertising

          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.

          Advertising

          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

          Read Next