Office Survival Tip: Dealing with Embarrassing Moments
We’ve all had awkward moments, and while some of us are more accident prone than others, embarrassing moments are a painful social phenomenon that everyone can relate to.
The absolute worst way to handle any embarrassing moment is to pretend it didn’t happen. While I admire your dedication to your powers of self-persuasion, no one else is fooled into believing you didn’t just eat it on the stairs when you oh so cleverly hop up and keep walking like nothing happened.
No, you need to approach embarrassing moments head on. I know it sounds cheesy, but the best way to take the social sting out of any embarrassing situation is to start it off by laughing yourself. I think this is a hard one for some people, but if it makes you feel better, if this is an issue for you, you’re probably going to keep getting pounded by traumatically embarrassing events until you learn the lesson. And even then, you’ll still probably continue to be subject to horrifyingly socially awkward situations, you’ll just care less. That probably doesn’t make you feel any better.
The same holds true if you’re an observer of an awkward moment. You may think you’re being polite by pretending not to notice, but in reality it makes the whole situation roughly 10x more awkward. Everyone knows you didn’t just “fail to notice” Tim toppling his office chair during a staff meeting, and shuffling your notes around while you wait for him to get up isn’t a convincing act. Meanwhile Tim, who is now lying on his back on the conference room floor, probably isn’t mollified by everyone’s sympathetic and awkward silence either.
Really, whenever you observe an awkward situation, do everyone a favor and just laugh. Laughing benefits everyone involved: you for getting a kick out of someone being embarrassed, everyone else who now feels like it’s ok to laugh as well, and for the Embarassee for being front and center in a valuable exercise on how to laugh at their own unfortunate situation.
Of course as with anything, practice moderation. Reminding Tim once of the time he bailed out of his chair during a meeting is funny and promotes humility. But don’t be surprised if reminding Tim daily of his embarrassing moment eventually result in bodily injury to yourself.