Responding To Behavior That Makes You Feel Uncomfortable
Sometimes, certain behaviors make you feel uncomfortable. It could be how that person looks at you or how they invade your space. It could be the way they talk that sets off alarm bells!
We’ve all had that feeling at one time or another. We’ve felt the hairs stand on the back of our necks and our spines tingle unease.
Yet, we can’t always walk away or distance ourselves from that person. Often, the person who makes us feel this way is someone you have to deal with quite often, like a colleague or family member.
The bottom line is that, sooner or later, you will find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Yet, how you handle yourself during that time makes all the difference.
So, the next time you feel uncomfortable, use these strategies to help you manage your feelings and reactions.
1. Pause Before Reacting
The rule of thumb for anyone uncomfortable is to stop, think, and act. The worst thing you can do is give a knee-jerk reaction. Trust us; it always ends badly.
So, try to stay calm to avoid letting the pressure of that awkward situation get to you. If you can remove yourself from the problem, get some coffee or take a quick walk. This way, you can look at the situation from a fresh perspective when you return.
Yet, if you can’t walk away, the best thing to do is focus on breathing to help regulate your nervous system. As a result, you become less anxious and better prepared to handle the situation.
Here’s how to practice deep breathing in just a few seconds:
First, inhale slowly through your nose. Hold your breath for a second or two when you feel your abdomen has expanded. Next, exhale through your mouth. Repeat 4–5 times. Make a Joke
There’s a time and place for jokes; sometimes, they can be a great way to diffuse an uncomfortable situation.
This strategy works best when you trip as you’re heading into work or shows up at work with your top inside out. When people see you laugh at your snafus, they’ll probably feel less tense and quickly brush it off as an innocent blunder, then go on with their day.
Yet, it may not work as well in other, more intense situations, like someone making an inappropriate comment at work about race or gender.
2. Diffuse the Situation
Using the same example above, it might feel easier to sweep the comment under the rug and hope everyone forgets about it.
But that will never happen. Ignoring a serious situation like that will fester like an open wound and worsen with time.
The most effective way to deal with something like that is to acknowledge what was said. Make sure you pick the right time to discuss it so everyone involved won’t become emotional or storm out in a fury.
Explain to the person who commented— in very plain terms—how this may come across as offensive or demeaning. Most likely, the person will apologize, not realizing they’ve put their foot in their mouth. If not, then at least you’ll have voiced your concerns calmly and maturely.
3. Enjoy the Silence
In our experience, most uncomfortable situations are accompanied by a deadly silence. You know, the kind when you can hear your blood pumping through your veins, that kind of silence.
According to a study by the University of Groningen, people feel uncomfortable after only four seconds of silence. Add an already awkward situation, and things get even more unnerving.
Yet, if all that quiet seems disturbing, trying to fill it can be even worse! You start to panic because you feel the pressure of all that silence.
The key to getting past the awkwardness is to allow yourself to revel in the silence for a bit. Let your mind wander about what just happened, and run through a few scenarios of all the possible things you could say.
Avoid blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. Those comments are usually ill-thought-out, and we regret them as soon as they’ve been said.
4. Act Confident
You know that saying, ‘Fake it till you make it?’ That certainly works here. Most of us feel insecure about specific things about ourselves, even when crushing it at home and work. Then, we slip up, or someone makes us uncomfortable for some reason, and all those insecurities get multiplied by a thousand!
It’s times like these when having a role model or someone you admire pays. It could be one of your more self-assured friends, a manager at work, or even a fictional character from a TV series. Imagine how they’d react if they were in the same situation and take inspiration from their response.
This tactic is a great way to ease you out of an uncomfortable situation. It’ll also help you disconnect from your insecurities so you can see the problem from a more objective viewpoint.