We’ve all said it,
- ‘OMG, I was soooo embarrassed!’
- ‘I didn’t know where to put myself.’
- I’ll never be able to face them again.’
The fear of embarrassment is more common than you might think.I’m writing this post to try to shed some light on the subject and to help you deal with this, well… this embarrassing subject.
What is this thing we call embarrassment?
My dictionary tells me it means you feel uncomfortable or ashamed. Neither of these feelings is good for your confidence, that’s for sure. It means you feel you’re in the spotlight but not in a good way. All eyes are on you because you got it wrong. Everyone is judging you and finding you wanting.
Perhaps you -
- turn up for a wedding wearing the same outfit as another guest… how embarrassing!
- don’t feel you belong in this expensive restaurant and might do the ‘wrong thing’… how embarrassing!
- don’t believe you know as much about how to do this job as you should do and might make a mistake… how embarrassing!
Everyone has a story to tell about their ‘most embarrassing moment’. You laugh as they relate it, secretly feeling relieved that it wasn’t you in that situation. It’s an uncomfortable part of life and not always easy to deal with. The fear of embarrassment can prevent you from taking risks, making changes or… reaching for the stars.
So…How can you deal with the fear of embarrassment?
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid. It catches you unawares. But there are things you can do to prevent embarrassment happening to you.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Many situations that could cause you to feel embarrassed can be avoided, if you prepare yourself properly. Think about what it is that you’re afraid of. Looking foolish? Not ‘winning’? Being ‘found out’ as incompetent? Being laughed at? Forgetting the words? Stuttering in an interview?
- You have to make a speech? Practise it over and over. Make small cue cards that can fit in your hand. Practise until the fear recedes. And it will.
- You’re starting a new job and feeling nervous? Again, prepare thoroughly for that first potentially difficult week or so. Get as much info as you can about what you’ll be expected to do. Ask questions. Show enthusiasm. Realise that you will make mistakes, because everyone does, at first. And, gradually, confidence will come.
- Going to be in an unavoidable ‘out of your depth’ situation? Again, do some preparation. Take it slowly. Arm yourself with information about what to expect, stay in the shallow end to start with, hold on to the side. Watch others to see what to do, listen and take part a little at a time. And, gradually, your fear of embarrassment will fade.
The more you prepare, the better. Obviously there’ll be unexpected situations that trip you up but there’s not much you can do to prepare for those. The more you face up to it the better you’ll get at not embarrassing yourself.
2. Apologise with dignity.
If you’ve said or done something that’s embarrassed you, be ready with a sincere apology as soon as possible. Don’t try to make excuses or you’ll end up digging yourself an even bigger hole.
- You forget an important birthday. Apologise and perhaps send a note or a make a phone call. But don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re human and everyone forgets things.
- You offend someone without meaning to. You don’t know how you’re going to face them. As soon as possible make sure you do face them and apologise. Make it clear that you didn’t mean to offend. That’s all you can do.
- You make a bad mistake at work. Again, acknowledge it and put it right if that’s possible. Make it clear that you’ll do your best to avoid it in future.
3. Embarrassment happens to all of us.
It’s not a fault, it’s a fact. You must tell yourself that it’s not just you who fears embarrassment. No-one likes it. Everyone will feel embarrassed in the situations you’re worried about.
We all get embarrassed. We all blush. We all want to run away and hide in a corner when it happens. But the fear will recede the more you deal with it and before you know it, your fear of embarrassment will be a thing of the past.
Next time it happens, tell yourself you can deal with it and your blush will fade.
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In the Comments,
- Is fear of embarrassment getting in your way?
- What would you love to do… but are backing away from, in case you look silly?