No matter your station in this life, there is one thing that we all have in common—our humanity. And because we are all human, we’ve all experienced moments of imperfection, faux pas, and public embarrassment. But just like children learn after falling off their first bike, the most important thing is getting right back up and starting over again. So when it comes to some of life’s most embarrassing moments, don’t run and hide, take it like a woman (or man) with these solutions for a quick recovery.
You forget someone’s name. How many times have you been to a wedding reception, business meeting or other social function to be warmly greeted by someone who at least looks familiar—only to draw a complete blank when it comes to remembering that person’s name? Don’t worry. It happens to the best of us and there are several quick recovery options. One way is to make a third party introduction to someone who is standing beside you by asking, “Have you two met?” That way the two will make a fresh introduction and no one will be wiser about your forgetfulness. You can always ask someone for their business card, take a quick peek at their name badge (in business functions) or ask someone to simply repeat their full name (with the implication that you simply forgot their last name). You can also just tell the truth and say you forgot. And a tip to remembering someone’s name in the first place? Repeat it several times during your first introduction to someone.
You have spinach in your teeth. Hopefully, you are the one who discovers the spinach in the first place—and not a coworker, business associate or stranger. If you feel you have spinach or any other food item in your teeth, simply excuse yourself and make your way to the restroom for a quick tooth check. If someone else tells you, instead of being embarrassed, be grateful someone told you before another second of the day passed. And try to have a sense of humor about it. A good sense of humor about yourself can deflect attention from the actual spinach and people will forget about it more quickly than you can imagine. Lastly, if the situation is in reverse, you should try to discreetly help someone out by quietly pointing out their oral offender.
You go to a party or business function and someone is wearing the same outfit as you. Get a selfie and post it on Instagram as soon as possible. Well, that’s only one option but again, having a sense of humor about something as minor as clothing can make for a memorable occasion and become an opportunity to show others how good natured you are. If it’s for a high profile event and you have time to alter your appearance, you could always make slight adjustments to your look by borrowing a scarf or wearing a jacket.
Your child makes an offensive remark about an adult friend or relative. Many parents know there is nothing more mortifying than having a child make an inappropriate comment about a family member, friend, or even a stranger. A quick and polite apology to the adult is the best remedy here while also using the opportunity as a learning lesson to teach your child to refrain from making public comments about others. But keep in mind that a child does not have the same filters as adults, so publicly overcorrecting the child’s faux pas is not necessary and could only make the situation more uncomfortable for everyone.
You have a wardrobe malfunction. Get thee to a restroom as quickly as possible and pull out that little emergency travel sewing kit from your purse or briefcase. If you are thread and needle free, you can always ask for assistance from a hotel concierge or a host/hostess in a restaurant.
You neglected to RSVP for an important event. Many of us have numerous social engagements throughout any given year and sometimes an important date literally falls off the calendar. Regardless of the reason, even the most socially aware sometimes simply forget to let others know their intentions. If you show up to a function in which you did not RSVP, just make your apologies to your host or hostess and make a discreet exit (especially if it’s a seated affair with minimum food or beverage offerings). If you simply forgot to RSVP and also don’t show up, send a handwritten note to your host along with a small gift or flowers to show your apologies.
You receive a nasty comment or negative review on social media. Social media has made many of us feel the need to right every wrong in a public forum—especially when it comes to online reviews, public criticism or negative commentary. If your online presence is for business purposes or if you’re a public figure (i.e., politician) who seeks public input, it’s absolutely reasonable to respond to someone who has flamed you. The trick is to simply make your point and then go on about your day and don’t get into a lingering diatribe with someone who just wants to argue. If you feel a flash of anger about what someone said, simply wait before posting and get past the initial emotional response that may have you going as low as the person who disparaged you. Also, remember that you can control your privacy settings on most social platforms and keep the negativity from ever reaching you in the first place.
You send an email or text to the wrong person. Depending on what you sent and who you sent it to, there may be many different levels of apologies that you will have to offer up. But in most cases, you can simply send a follow up email or text to apologize for the mistake. To help prevent this type of mistake in the first place, it’s always good to slow down and be mindful of all your electronic communication before you hit send—including those email replies meant to only respond to one person but you hit send all.
You bomb on your big speech or presentation. Unfortunately, we don’t have a time machine to go back and fix a public gaffe, but we do have something called second chances. If you bomb the first time out, learn from your mistakes and analyze what went wrong in a constructive manner. Don’t beat yourself up for what you did or didn’t say, simply be better prepared the next time and be willing to take constructive criticism on a poorly received performance or presentation. And remember that being nervous is actually a sign that you truly care—so channel that energy the next go round.
You fall down in public. From runway models to even Nancy Reagan, many famous people have made some very public falls. The best advice is from an old song that says, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.”