own that embarassing moment

The older you are the more you have. Not wrinkles or debt, but something better: stories.

While you hold many of these life stories close to your heart, some of those memories may leave you cringing. You may have peed your pants in seventh grade or streaked across campus during finals week in college. These kind of stories can haunt you and even hurt your reputation in the workplace.

Fortunately, there is a solution.

The easiest way to handle an embarrassing story is proactive prevention. Usually it’s best to keep your stories your business and out of the office. However, if you unexpectedly bond with a colleague, the dirty details might slip out. Don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world but be prepared to take action if that friendly colleague exposes you.

We’re not all saints. Things happen. So what do you do after an embarrassing part of your past is revealed? Own the story and make it your own.

Let’s go through the steps.

1 Address the culprit

If you know the culprit airing your dirty laundry, approach them calmly. Politely ask why they shared the rumor without addressing them aggressively or being accusatory. You don’t want that person to blow up the story even more because clearly he or she has no problem revealing those intimate details of Spring Break 2010.

2 Don’t play dumb

If there’s some truth in the rumor, don’t lie and deny  it. As soon as you admit that you stuffed your bra in high school, you take a lot of the sting out of a story. A rumor is a lot more exciting to share than reality. Plus, now you’re the one controlling the narrative.

3 Be ahead of the rumor

If you notice that gossip about your unforgettable trip (down the stairs) is a trending topic, stay ahead of the fire. When people hear the embarrassing story straight from your mouth, they’ll hear the best and most honest version. They’re more likely to recount what you’ve told them instead of a far-fetched rumor anyway.

4 Stay in control

When you learn that people are talking about you (and maybe judging you), keep your poker face on. Don’t let them know you’re hurt or mad. If you laugh off that awkward prom date rejection, the story is sure to die down. By keeping calm and carrying on, you’ll control the situation.

5 Don’t let it get to you

Even if you successfully pretend you don’t care, you may be lying to yourself. Even the thickest of skin might not be able to laugh off the orange tint of that spray tan gone wrong. As a result you might feel anxiety, stress and even depression. Remember that everyone does stupid things in life. Don’t let yourself get worked up.  You know who you are, hold your head high.

6 Remember it will die down

Don’t be petty and spread rumors in return, as this will only add fuel to the fire. Unless you make national news, people are eventually going to forget. Sit back, let it pass and in a week or so they’ll all be talking about the intoxicated receptionist at the company event. Tomorrow is another day – and another story.  And remember what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

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