How to respond when someone embarrasses you in public

Being publicly embarrassed or humiliated can be a painful experience.

How to respond to being publicly embarrassed [PsychologyToday]

We've all been there. During a social gathering, someone says or does something that throws you off balance, leaving you feeling exposed and humiliated.


Our natural instinct might be to lash out, cry, retreat in embarrassment or simply melt into the floor. However, there are more effective ways to handle these situations while maintaining your dignity.

Here's how to respond to a person who embarrasses you in public:


The first few moments after being publicly embarrassed can sting but you need to manage those initial emotions:

  • Before reacting, take a deep breath. This will help calm your nervous system and allow you to think clearly.
  • It's normal to feel embarrassed, hurt, or angry. Don't try to suppress these emotions, but acknowledge them internally.
  • Quickly assess the situation. Was it a deliberate attempt to humiliate you, or an unintentional blunder? This will guide your response.

The way you respond to the person who embarrassed you depends on the intent (was the person deliberately trying to humiliate you, or was it a misunderstanding?), the relationship (is this a close friend, a colleague, or a casual acquaintance?), and the setting (are you at a work meeting, a family dinner, or a social gathering?).


Once you've taken a breath and assessed the situation, here are some strategies for responding with dignity: Here are some options:

  • Direct but calm: If the person’s comment was malicious or hurtful, a firm but polite response might be necessary. Express your discomfort and set a boundary. For example, "I appreciate your input, but I would prefer it if you addressed it directly with me in private." or "I don't appreciate that comment. Let's move on."
  • The non-reaction: Sometimes, the most powerful response is no response. If the person is clearly trying to get a rise out of you, don't give them the satisfaction. Excuse yourself politely and remove yourself from the immediate situation.
  • Humour (if appropriate): If the situation allows for it, deflecting with a funny remark can diffuse tension and show you haven't lost your composure. However, avoid sarcasm, which can come across as passive-aggressive.
  • The calm clarification:  If the comment was inaccurate or misleading, a calm clarification can be helpful. Simply state the facts without getting defensive.
  • The excuse yourself exit: If the situation feels overwhelming, excuse yourself gracefully. You can say, "Excuse me, I need to step away for a moment." Take some time to compose yourself before rejoining the gathering.

Never give the person the power to control your emotions. Maintain your dignity and avoid stooping to the level of the person who embarrassed you. Respond with grace and respect for yourself.

  • After the situation, talk to a trusted friend about how it made you feel. Talking it out can help you process the experience and move forward.
  • Reflect on the situation. Could you have handled it differently? Did it reveal anything about your own boundaries or triggers? Use this as a learning experience.

Everyone experiences public embarrassment at some point, but you can control these situations effectively and maintain your sense of self-worth.

This content was created with the help of an AI model and verified by the writer.


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