The more experiences I gain, the more I realize that true failure lies with the inability to recover when life throws you a curve ball. It is seldom what happens, but rather how you react to it that will define how that experience will shape your future.
There is a web of complicated social cues that influences the outcome of an awkward moment or a perceived failure by an ever watchful audience. A good starting point is not losing control of your reaction. It might be the only thing that you can control and will play a key role in providing a platform that will allow you to influence other people’s responses.
Take a breath; don't react suddenly, but calmly and without hesitation and redirect the focus of the audience away from you. The worst atmosphere is one of uncertainty, where each individual is forced to decide for themself how to proceed.
How can I practically take back some control? Here are some pointers:
- Acknowledge the incident, play it down as unimportant and change focus by asking a question to a specific person that will guide the conversation back to the previous topic. This strategy requires them to respond and breaks the immediate tension.
- As with the first point, acknowledge the incident, but blow it humorously and completely out of proportion, before changing the focus away from you. This makes the actual event seem much less intimidating.
This boils down to experience, confidence and redirection, all of which can be learned and developed over time. People seem to think that some people are born with social super powers, but really all it takes is dedication to change and the will to improve ourselves.
In the end these potentially unpleasant experiences are part of life and they carve on our character. We only seem to reach the pinnacle of potential for change in the face of our darkest moments.
Lastly, don't linger on past mistakes (once you have learned from the experience). It should serve only one purpose and that is to guide us into a better future.