We all know that moment when we feel intensely embarrassed in a situation. Being seriously out of our depth and not feeling "quick enough" in our mental processing to manoeuvre. Or is somebody, in fact, rude and does not respect the universally known social boundaries? When we feel momentarily unresourceful and confused how to reply we feel out of our depth. This produces stress.
Humans have a habit of responding in various ways to an event like this. Some people blush, become quiet, some people become confused and some people become angry. Humans process emotions in different ways and at different speeds.
This subject keeps HR departments busy!
"Embarrassment is a self-conscious emotion dictated by a disconnect between how we feel we should respond or act in public and how we actually respond or act" according to Lifehacker.com.
I am wondering what precisely you find embarrassing?
There are many possibilities of situations, words, actions, social behaviours, habits and requests to name here. Some are universally acceptable, some have cultural connotations and some stem from a lack of graceful communication.
When people behave in a certain way socially, by wearing certain clothes or using certain words?
A funny story comes to mind. A well-known person to me told me a hilarious anecdote quite a few years back which I find highly amusing. Prince Phillip came to support the Ten Tors Challenge in Dartmoor UK and when being shown around by an officer in his forties, he looked down at Prince Phillip's shoes and said "nice brogues, Sir!" Everyone thought this was really odd and did not contribute towards what was going on. The Prince looked puzzled and slightly confused for a moment. The feedback the chap received from his fellow officers was not flattering, expressing a degree of some social incapability which made a few people uncomfortable and embarrassed. You can imagine the scenario...or not?
My point is some people are not able to pick up social cueing very easily and therefore will say things that appear a bit odd. This does not mean they do not appreciate or like us but it certainly breaks our pattern of thinking.
Now I am very fortunate to feel socially confident. I have very strong beliefs about equality and that I am comfortable in many different social settings. I am far less confident in business when being surrounded by people who have very different values and communication styles than I am used to! But many of you might be the opposite, very matter of fact and empowered in business as a result of good mentorship and personal drive.
However that might be – embarrassment is not good for business or our wellbeing!
Humans need to feel heard and safe to perform well so have the courage to go back to that person who embarrassed you, reiterate the scenario, make sure you did not misunderstand them. And if they do not apologize and meet your need to feel heard then give yourself permission to step up as a leader, set boundaries and explain why you were embarrassed. When we feel safe and heard we are free to produce the most amazing output, we feel valued and accepted in our tribe workgroup. It's fun to be working and interacting in a group where there is clarity. Boundaries and rules are extremely important there, especially for those who have a tendency to disagree with them.
The influencer Gary Vaynerchuk makes extreme clarity in communication a number one success in business. Do look him up, he is very active on LinkedIn. Tony Robbins is super successful and his habit of breaking people's habitual thinking patterns with unconventional ways of communicating has not always brought him praise.
Define where your boundaries of communication are and decide how exactly you thrive. Let's use the scenarios of embarrassment as a steep learning curve for ourselves and our teams, yey!
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