We’ve all been there. Imagine having a great time chatting in a group: laughing, smiling, good energy. Then all of a sudden someone in the group makes an “off-color” remark and all of the energy is suddenly sucked away, and then you’re left with silence and awkward looks. Everyone is uncomfortable and no one knows how to respond.
This is just one example of instances where I’ve felt the most uncomfortable. Others can include an inappropriate co-worker, a friend who crosses boundaries, or a colleague/friend who is into you but doesn’t know how to flirt and is coming off sleazy, aggressive, (fill in the blank) etc.
These moments can make us cringe or at the very least catch us off balance.
So how do we deal with these moments?
When I was growing up, I often felt like I was stuck in a loop of one uncomfortable and awkward situation after another. Luckily, I’ve developed these techniques that have helped me escape the sticky situations well also not getting into them when I can.
- Use your words. I often hear parents say this to their young children to teach them how to communicate what they’re feeling. It’s funny how applicable this applies even as adults. We often feel like we can’t or shouldn’t be direct with people because we’d offend them if we were. That is true to an extent but if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation because of someone else, then your first recourse is to “use your words” and communicate to the person that 1) you’re uncomfortable and 2) why. Perhaps the person wasn’t even aware of how they were making you feel; perhaps it wasn’t intentional etc. The only way you’ll know is to communicate how you’re feeling, and wait for the response. There’s nothing worse than just waiting it out or altering your life to avoid someone in particular.
- Think Before You Speak – While you should use your words to communicate how you feel, it’s always a good idea to take a step back and think first about what to say. The last thing you want to do is blurt out something rude or inappropriate yourself. If you find yourself about to burst, just take a deep breath, and first communicate to the person that you’re uncomfortable without making an attack on that person. Wait for their response before jumping to any conclusions.
- Talk it out – sometimes, the discomfort I felt in a particular situation was because of me, and not the other person. It helps to talk it out with a friend or family member to get a second opinion. I do this all the time with my friends and they ask me as well.
- Keep It Moving – life moves forward, whether we like it or not. If you keep finding yourself dwelling on the negative experiences of your past, then you’re rehashing all of those negative feelings even though your actual life has moved beyond that moment. If anything, we should learn to dwell on the good memories and how positive they made us feel rather than watering the grudges we’ve been holding on to for so long. The only purpose negative experiences should serve in our present life is to leave us with a new skill on how to cope with them going forward.
These days, I get a kick out of awkward or uncomfortable moments because I’m able to quickly identify them for what they are, deal with them in the moment, and move past them with a chuckle. Hopefully, you find one of these tips useful.
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