We’ve all been there: you’re in the middle of a crowd, meeting, or class and you stick your foot straight in your mouth. Or worse, you’re minding your own business when a friend accidentally asks you something impertinent. No matter the cause, awkward situations are something we all struggle with. Awkward questions, unintentional insults and unexpected situations manage to find us all. However, complex social moments shouldn’t get you down. Though we would all rather not have to deal with awkward moments, there are a few underutilized solutions to keep your cool. Here are seven of them.
1. Own It
Perhaps the most effective solution for awkward situations, but also the one that requires the most courage, is to face the situation head on. This may be tricky if you’re naturally more anxious or shy, but laughing it off is usually the fastest remedy. Don’t be afraid of addressing your own mistakes. Having the nerve to make a joke about yourself puts everyone at ease, so you can then change the subject.
2. Practice Confidence
Learning to project confidence is an excellent way to deal with awkward situations. Since no two awkward situations are alike, knowing how to transition depending on your situation is key. Practice having more conversations with strangers, striking up a conversation yourself, or making new friends to help you get used to unexpected social situations. If you’re still feeling at the mercy of awkward situations, don’t underestimate the power of faking it till you make it.
3. Move On
Much like facing a situation head on, if you’re in a situation where you’ve offended someone or found out about a recent loss, it can be helpful to simply address the concern. Instead of lingering on the awkward words, offer your condolences, apologies, or assistance. A genuine concern for the situation reassures other parties of your intentions. Switching topics to address the problem should make it clear to everyone that you were unaware of the situation.
If humor doesn’t have you feeling better about the situation, remember that there’s no reason to feel anxious about it. Minimize your anxiety by using self-talk to guide you through. Awkward situations are only temporary, regardless of how painful they feel, and this one will pass too. Tell yourself that everyone experiences these things at one time or another, and you’ll soon be forgetting all about it.
5. Calm Your Nerves
Much like using self-talk to keep yourself focused, calming your nerves can help you through awkward situations. Taking a sincere step to being focused and in control during an awkward situation can put you in a better place to respond. Try some easy breathing techniques to help keep your heartbeat down and your palms dry. If you can keep calm, you’ll be much quicker to recover the situation.
6. Recovery Space
Taking some space to yourself can be very helpful when dealing with an awkward situation, but it is sometimes complicated to step away tactfully. Even if you feel like cutting and running, it is possible to take a minute to yourself without making the situation worse. Just politely say you need some air or a minute alone, then excuse yourself. A moment away from the situation can usually help you keep things manageable and in perspective.
7. Give People the Benefit of the Doubt
Should you be the recipient of an awkward or rude question, remember that the person may not realize they are being abrasive. Giving people the benefit of the doubt can let you breeze through what would otherwise be an awkward situation. Giving a direct and simple response, without being rude makes the situation much simpler than overreacting.
Featured photo credit: jazbeck via flickr.com