Earlier this summer I was contacted by a reporter with the Chicago Tribune who was writing a column called “Social Graces”. She asked me to respond to the following question:
How do you address a friend who always embarrasses you in social circles by bringing up things you did in the past?
I loved this question because I have first-hand experience with handling awkward situations, particularly this one. A close friend has done it to me for years. My usual response is to smile and try to laugh off whatever embarrassing moment she wants to pass on. For the most part, the things she chooses to reveal are what she perceives to be humorous. Kept between the two of us, they might be funny.
How do I address these awkward moments? I find that laughing them off is best. There is no need to call out my friend in front of everyone else. Laughing at her stories puts me in the position of laughing at myself. Self-deprecating humor is well-received by others. There is no reason to make an uncomfortable situation any more awkward.
After listening to my friend tell the same story on several different occasions, I have taken her aside and asked her to stop repeating my embarrassing moments. I have told her that I am not happy with having her make fun of me.
In these awkward situations, it is important to let the other person know how bringing up past events, that are not always complimentary, makes you feel. People often fail to consider the feelings of others. Asking the question, “Do you realize how this makes me feel?” is the best approach. “Feel” being the keyword.
Another tact, when you see this coming, is to stop the person immediately and say, “Do you mind not telling that story again? I think everyone has already heard it.”
The less attention you draw to the situation the better.
- Try to brush off or laugh at what your friend is saying.
- Refocus or change the subject as quickly and smoothly as possible.
- Take your friend aside and let her know how she makes you feel and ask that she think before she does it again.