Thursday, 3 May 2007


An article at the BBC looking at Embarrassment gives examples of embarrassing stories, talks about its physical symptoms and speculates as to why we get embarrassed (and the blushing, oh the blushing). I definitely embarrass easily, and agonise (for many years sometimes) over embarrassing situations that everyone else probably forgot fairly instantly so this is some comfort:

Instead of feeling awkward about being easily embarrassed, Professor Crozier says it's a sign of greater emotional intelligence.
"A prerequisite for embarrassment is to be able to feel how others feel - you have to be empathetic, intelligent to the social situation," he says.

Of course sometimes my greater emotional intelligence (if indeed I possess such) is over-ridden by my attempts to overcome shyness.

Embarrassment is a way of making us adhere to social codes so that we don't insult our friends, reveal our basic instincts or show too much of our private emotions. People who are unembarrassable are likely to be poor at reading social situations. So while everyone else cringes, they plough on, unable to pick up the sensitivities of the situation.

I think I can sometimes be the seemingly unembarrassable just because I'm pushing myself to not sit in the corner and say nothing and depending on where I am that leads to suppressing some sensitivities until words are out of my mouth, or (worse) I replay a conversation in my head later and cringe. Thankfully that doesn't happen too often, and at least it's only a temporary affliction. We certainly know people who don't seem to have much clue about social codes and make everyone else awkward.

I guess I'm not the only one interested in embarrassment; the article seems to be among the most popular stories at the BBC website at the moment.

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