Embarrassing moments are difficult to recover from.
You’ll find yourself playing moments of embarrassment over in your mind, and those regret-filled thoughts can paralyze you in similar situations down the line. Embarrassing moments can lead to emotional decisions being made and cause extreme anxiety during the moment in question.
The first thing you should remember is that nobody goes through life without being embarrassed a few times. The feelings are normal, and you wouldn’t be of a healthy mind if you didn’t instantly regret some things you’ve done or said.
So how should you conduct yourself in moments of embarrassment?
This article aims to provide some guidelines on what to do directly after being embarrassed, particularly in a professional environment.
Let’s take the example of saying something embarrassing during a team meeting which results in all of your colleagues bursting out in laughter. The laughter is not one which stemmed from comedic intention, but is at your social expense.
Acknowledge Only Once and Do Not Let That Moment Identify You
It is okay for you to laugh at yourself. Laugh along if you need to, and acknowledge the comedic effect your embarrassing action brought with it. However, you should only acknowledge your moment of embarrassment once – during the time that it occurs.
Be unresponsive to people who bring up what you did a few hours, days, or weeks ago. It is important that you do not accept the connections others try to establish between your identity and your embarrassing actions.
Those who allow themselves to be labelled in accordance to the embarrassing things they’ve done make the mistake of associating their identity with embarrassment. Though it may not seem dangerous to let that association slip by, it plays itself out in detrimental ways in random aspects of your social interactions.
Those who let themselves be defined by their embarrassing moments will be less likely to be trusted with important tasks, accepted as leaders, and generally listened to for new ideas.
It may seem like a stretch to relate these aspects, but the effect of being weak in protecting your reputation manifests itself in the subconscious decisions of others. Maintain your strength by laughing at yourself when needed, but don’t allow your embarrassing moments to travel with you down the road.
Do not react to those who bring up your past mistakes, and let their comments sulk in silence. Not providing a reaction is the most effective method in getting people to stop bringing up what you don’t want them to.
The lack of reaction is exactly that, don’t let others see you bothered by or agreeable towards the reminiscing of your most embarrassing moments. Treat them as mere moments stuck in time, and don’t allow them to travel with you through it.
The Mental State You Held Prior – Press the Restore Button
During the embarrassing moment itself, and after the reaction has taken place and settled down, quickly reset your mind to where it was prior to committing the embarrassing act.
You should let go of any feelings you have which resulted from your embarrassment, and continue focusing on what’s in front. Your ability to let go will be recognized and respected by those around you. Get back to business, and force yourself to refocus on the task at hand. Try to not let your mind wander and relive the embarrassing instance which just occurred.
The content at hand will save you from reliving the moment over and over, thereby commit your undivided attention to productive things. Once the ball of productivity begins to roll again, your embarrassing moment will be likelier to be forgotten and overlooked.
Productivity is the antidote to embarrassment, so make sure you bounce back strong in any setting that you’re in. Provide something of value as soon as the laughter has seized, and get everyone around you focused back to the business at hand.
As a leader, the traits of placing distractions aside will garner you respect. There is no greater distraction than committing an utterly embarrassing act. Your image of composure takes a hit, and it is up to you whether or not you bounce back from it.
Your first step should be to let go of the control you had in that specific situation and laugh at yourself. Don’t ignore embarrassing moments but don’t live inside them for too long. Press a button to forget, and focus back to what is productive for yourself and others.