The Embarrassment Loop

Abundance Empathy Kindness


Key Point: We only trip if we’re moving. The other day I did something that was embarrassing. Geez, at my age, I still do something dumb? How could I? The next morning I wake up, I’m driving for coffee, and I’m thinking about the incident. “Aaaaarg!” I hit the steering wheel. Why can’t I let go of this?

Reflecting on my own moment, I began to think of a very funny story. I will repeat it because I only think about it in the best way, although the people involved may still cringe if they read this. (I hope they smile instead). It is a great reminder that when we do embarrassing things, they are often with the best intention. 

I was the COO of a publicly traded company and really hurt myself during an inline skating accident. I crushed my STERNUM, broke a few ribs and collarbone. I was wrapped in a sling, at a corporate recognition event, sitting poolside with my wife. People kindly checked on my well being throughout the day. One of my direct reports came up to me with his wife. I had only met her a few times and with total, genuine sincerity, she states the following: “Oh Lorne, I’m so sorry you’re hurt. How is your SCROTUM?”…. hmmmmmm… A long pause… A flash of crimson cheeks all around… A bust of laughter… And a quick exit… 

That story brings a huge smile to my face every time it comes to mind. And I never think anything but fondness for that couple. The intention was so thoughtful and well meaning. How could I? But when we are the ones delivering the embarrassing moments, it causes us to go “aaaargh.”

Character Moves:

  1. Let go. Your intent was right. The other person is so wrapped up in his or her own stuff they don’t have time to think about it. And if they get satisfaction from diminishing you, they have work to do.
  2. Be nice. A recent CBC Radio segment asked those turning 50 what they would do better regarding behavior if they had a chance for a redo: The overall consensus was, “be a nicer person.” START with YOU! Be nice.
  3. Embrace the situation. Embarrassing moments are like adding patina to a great dining room table. It gives character and richness. We do dumb stuff with the best intention because we are trying. Good for you and me.

No “Aaaargh” in The Triangle,