No matter how tactful you are with your words, no matter how careful you are to zip your fly, no matter how many beans you avoid you will inevitably do something embarrassing. Prevention helps, but mistakes will still happen. The ultimate trick to handling embarrassment is simply to play it cool. This guide will show you how.
Your first line of defense is silence. If you expel a little gas and nobody seems to notice, don’t bring it up. You’ve escaped an embarrassing situation. Be thankful and move on. Bringing it up will not only draw attention to your actions but also to your embarrassment. And drawing attention to your embarrassment is rarely a good thing.
Why? Because most people don’t know how to react. Even if they want to relieve your embarrassment, it’s rarely clear just how they can do that. Should they make a joke to ease the tension? Or would that be insulting? Maybe they should cooingly reassure you. Or would that be patronizing?
The problem is, by showing that you’re embarrassed, you’re forcing others to make an awkward decision. If you want to be polite, don’t put them in that situation. Be quiet, if you have the choice.
However, what do you do if your embarrassment is obvious? What if a sneeze shoots snot all over your face? What if your little toot turns out to be a deafening roar? In these situations, you’ll have to say or do something. The act itself broadcasted your embarrassment.
The trick is to be a leader. If your companions feel uncomfortable because they don’t know how to react, show them how you want them to react. Don’t force them to make that awkward decision on their own. If you play the accident off as a joke, for instance, more than likely they’ll joke about it, too. If the event was especially embarrassing, a sincere apology could also do the trick. They’ll probably follow your lead and offer some sincere forgiveness.
Of these two strategies, jokes are usually the better choice. As a rule of thumb, ask yourself this — has my mistake genuinely offended those around me, or simply made me look foolish? If it’s the latter, then your best choice is probably a joke. The joke will not only relieve tension but show that you’re not a complete fool, as well. Be prepared for others to make a few friendly jabs, though.
Apologies are trickier, but with the proper precautions will work just fine. First off, don’t apologize for the small stuff. Use that opportunity to crack a joke, instead. Reserve your apologies for the mistakes that have seriously upset others. Secondly, never over-apologize. Once you’re forgiven, let it be; even if you continue to feel uncomfortable. Think about it this way — your companions have already done you a favor by forgiving you. By asking for more forgiveness, you’re asking for additional favors, which is can be perceived as selfish and annoying.
In most situations, these anti-embarrassment guidelines will get you through your uncomfortable situations unscathed. (And by telling good, self-deprecating jokes, you might actually impress a few people.) Just keep your cool, and remember: Don’t force others to decide how to react to your embarrassment. Be kind, and lead the way for them.