That was embarrassing

Like many people, I can be frozen by embarrassment – or even worse, frozen simply by the fear of embarrassment.

For example, recently I made an embarrassing goof during a podcast interview (one that insulted my guests), even though I’ve been working pretty hard to get better at interviewing. This goof affected my sleep for a couple of days – I’d wake up breathing slightly heavily and beating myself up: “How could I be so stupid?”

Whenever I experience something like that, I have an impulse to run away. For example, in this case, I had minor thoughts about quitting podcasting or dialing it back: “I guess I’m just not cut out for this.” However, I also knew that I had been working hard and improving, so I didn’t take that impulse too seriously. I observed my typical embarrassment reaction, but I knew instinctively that this was simply a bump in the road, and I’d eventually get over it.

This time, I took one additional step … I said, “I’m embarrassed” out loud. I was recording a test episode, and as I was pitching the next show, I mentioned my mistake. Instantly, I felt quite a bit better. At that point, I realized that it was simply a fact of my life: I did this, and it was embarrassing. I didn’t lose any more sleep. I’m still a bit embarrassed by it, but it’s not debilitating. 

I’ll probably take one more step and simply apologize directly to my guests when I announce the show. They clearly noticed my gaff, and if I were in their shoes, I’d be insulted – I might as well not shy away from it.

This seems like a repeatable approach to me, although I hope I don’t have to use it too often. If you want to know the specifics of this particular faux pas, you’ll have to listen to my podcast.

6 thoughts on “That was embarrassing

  1. Steve Poling

    Have you read Jon Acuff’s book? In Quitter he describes the benefits of obscurity where you have space to make mistakes without the whole world noticing.

    Reply
  2. pfoley Post author

    I haven’t yet – seem to recall you mentioned it before. I’ll add it to my list!

    That said, for some reason, I don’t actually mind the “whole world noticing” part … It’s the internal stuff that bothers me – and the cases where I interact with one or two people.

    Reply
    1. pfoley Post author

      Yeah, it doesn’t surprise me that you knew what I meant 😉

      I think there’s something to be said for saying as quickly as possible, “I’m embarrassed” – say it to yourself first, then to someone you love who wasn’t involved, then to the person or people who were the object of your embarrassment. That’s what I’m going to try to do moving forward!

      I struggled with “object of embarrassment” … nobody else is the source of our embarrassment, are they?

      Reply

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