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Embarrassed at work? Bare and grin it

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in Business Etiquette,Workplace Communication

What do you do when something seriously embarrassing happens to you at work? Follow the lead of this month’s Best Communicators.

In early December, Ivan Zvonimir Cicak, who heads the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, was posing for a photo with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic when his pants fell down around his ankles. His reaction? To yank them up and carry on as usual. Her reaction? To pretend it didn’t happen.

They deserve the distinction of best communicators because rather than drawing more attention to the embarrassing situation, they stayed calm and professional and finished the presentation.

You might find yourself in a similar situation, embarrassed and feeling vulnerable. Instead of cowering in shame, follow these tips to quickly recover and move on:

  • Use a little humor. A sly smile and a quick appropriate joke can ease the awkwardness of the moment. For example, “For my next act people, we’re going to talk about …”
  • Offer a light-hearted confession. Saying something like “Wow, I am truly embarrassed right now, but I am determined to power through. Now, let’s talk about …” can calm your nerves and refocus the crowd.
  • Just get on with it. As Cicak and President Grabar-Kitarovic knew, sometimes the best defense is to just ignore what happened. Stand up straight, project your voice and say, “Thanks so much for being here today. Now let’s talk about …” Then carry on with your presentation as if nothing happened.

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