I keep embarrassing myself. Any tips for doing this less?

I seem to have a habit of unintentionally screwing up in social interaction by saying things that embarrass me or others by being rude or out of place, or giving the wrong impression. This makes me nervous that I’ll embarrass myself in the future, or that I’ve already alienated the people that I’ve made myself look like an ass in front of. As a result, I sometimes have trouble making new friends, largely through my own fault.

I’m going to put couple examples from the last twenty-four hours here, both of which are interactions with people who live in my dorm at college. I’ll spoiler them so if you just want to answer the question directly you can skip over the self-indulgent tl;dr.

[spoiler]Last night I was having a conversation with Person A about a famous author who is coming to speak on campus soon, and whom we both want to go see. She was lamenting that she didn’t have a copy on her of the book that he’s speaking about, and hasn’t read it in a while. My response: “I already have my copy of [that book] signed, so I’m bringing a different one of his books.” I immediately wanted to take that statement back, because it made it sound like I was just bragging about the fact that I’ve already met the author, rather than trying to add to the conversation, which was what I was doing (I had expected that she was going to bring up something about getting a book signed).

This morning, Person B was complaining about having to read Marx’s The Jewish Question for a class. I told her I hadn’t read that, but I did find a lot of Marx’s writing dense and hard to follow. She said this was particularly annoying because it felt like a lot of it was just an anti-Semitic screed. I said, “Wait, isn’t Marx Jewish?” She responded, “Yeah, I guess he’s a self-hating Jew.” I sarcastically replied, “Niiiiice, the best kind,” with a sigh. She said only “sure” and turned away. I’m not sure she realized I was being sarcastic, and I didn’t get a chance to tell her so. Now, I’m Jewish myself! But I’m not 100% sure she knows that. And now she might think I’m some kind of anti-Semite.[/spoiler]

Am I being a jerk, and is there some way of thinking through conversations that might lead to me being less of a jerk?

Am I overreacting/over-thinking things, will people not even remember these little screw-ups, and is there some way I can convince myself not to be so nervous about social interaction?

Bit of both?

Or… is this just pretty normal?

I will definitely say that I try to be friends with the people I never feel uncomfortable or embarrassed around, and as such I do have a solid group of wonderful friends, but I think I might be missing out on some great connections with people just because of my own anxiety.

Those interactions don’t make you seem like a dick to me – probably just as well, since these potential friends don’t really get you. I say inappropriate things all the time, and not just to friends or to new friends cum acquaintances – sometimes I feel like hiding for a long time to let my shame be swallowed by my massive ego, but it’s all in good fun, and anyone who will “get” you will eventually recognize you as a woolen-dyed prick or as a good-time charlie, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

I believe you are way over-thinking things.

We all say things from time to time that we wish we could take back. None of the two mentioned above even come close to that level.

Relax. People usually give you the benefit of doubt on off-hand comments. Unless you set a pattern of uttering inexplicably stupid statements the occasional blunder (of which I see no evidence above) will be completely forgotten.

Yes. I spent a long time, most through middle school and high school, obsessing about stupid things I said or did. It even followed me, to some extent into college and early adulthood. It took a long time to realize that I was worried about things that other people either didn’t notice at all, didn’t understand, or just laughed off and forgot about.

I don’t remember where the quote came from, but I like it (paraphrased) “You’d me much less concerned about what people think of you if you realized how little they actully do.” Mayne someone can help me out with the exact quote/cite.

It doesn’t seem to be a part of your situation based on the examples you provided, but for me quitting teh booze put an end to embarrassing verbal outbursts once and for all.

I vote over-thinking.

People shouldn’t love everything you say. If they did, they would get bored of you quickly.

Over-thinking with a splash of social anxiety. Totally normal for a college dorm and for anyone your age [I’m guessing your age between 18-23].
Best method to rectify the situation? Put yourself in any situation where you are supposed to talk to people of the opposite gender and of roughly your same age…the more you practice just conversing, the better you will get at it…generally takes us all quite a while to learn. We are not all naturally flibbertigibbets.

Thanks everybody. Sometimes it really helps just to hear some reassurance that I’m not going around being a dick to everyone. It’s hard to convince myself this on my own.

Phlosphr, why did you mention the opposite gender specifically? Is it because you thought I was male, and my two examples were of a guy trying to talk to girls? Or is there another reason? (Despite the somewhat masculine username, I’m actually female.)

I’m not Philosphr, but I assumed you were a dude, because I’ve only met a few women as neurotic as the man I am, and I was married to one once. My initial thoughts had nothing to do with man-chick relations, though.

No offense intended – it’s just the way I read it at first glance.

I don’t want to get too heavy, but to call-back to an earlier post, in my case as well, a lot of stupid shit has been said under the influence of various intoxicants. But also, well, not. Sometimes outgoing people just say too much, love too much, be too much. :slight_smile:

That’s no problem, and I’m not offended. I don’t think I’m a typically “feminine” girl, anyway.

I don’t like alcoholic drinks (I’m tremendously picky and my fluid intake is 100% water and tea), so I’ve never been under the influence. I can only guess at how much of a fool I’d make of myself then. Of course I think that’s more expected.

If I do spend some time loving too much, well, there are worse things to be accused of.

Can I take back my last post? I have – seriously – Martha and the Vandelllas playing on my PC, and it’s all because I imagine me to have said too much to a good-ish IRL friend.

Someone out of my misery, put me, please. Just to let you know, Electric Warrior that it happens to everyone, and it can be painful.


Mimetic Criticism?

Just be thankful for them! As I get older, I realize that so often I try to be friends with people and broaden my horizons, only to embarrass myself horribly or just get bored… and then I’m with a group of people, good friends or new, and everything ‘clicks’ and I realize life’s too short to struggle with the others. Doesn’t mean you can’t play nice and be a good person to everyone you meet, but if you have met people who get your humor and forgive your faults, you will meet others.

Other than that, my only advice is to pause before speaking. And, if you have said something dumb, try pointing it out straight away. ‘Oh, wait, does that make me sound like a total braggart? I just meant…’

You think you’re better’n me?


Think back now. Think of sometime someone said something stupid to you. Are you obsessing about it? Do you even remember it? Thought not. That’s what they think of your minor digressions.

We are less important in the eyes of other people than we think we are. I believe I read of an experiment in which someone with a giant stain on his shirt or something went in front of the class to talk to the teacher, and then left. The experimenter than surveyed the class for who noticed. Hardly anyone did. (I’m probably way wrong, but the book is packed.)

If you got the time and insurance, try some cognitive behavioral therapy to work on what sounds like a minor case of social anxiety. It’s not just for crazies!

Yes, correct, and if you find out please tell the rest of us.

you’re one up over me, mate. it takes me years to realize i’ve committed an unredeemable faux pas, especially back in college.

better to keep your mouth shut. that’s the best rule. if you can’t follow that, follow the next best one: dont vollunteer ínformation not asked for. both persons A and B gave simple declaratives that didn’t really invite replies.

Yeah I think keeping your mouth shut, if just for a while, can be helpful. Instead of concentrating on what to say and possibly being wrong, don’t say anything then go over it later in your mind. Come up with what you would have liked to have said. Then you get the practice of saying the right thing without the chance of saying the wrong thing first :slight_smile:

I had this problem for a while and then I decided that drinking - even a tiny bit - made me say rude things. But then I decided I didn’t want to not drink all the time (I still don’t drink a lot), maybe I should just be more quiet. Then it happened that I started hanging out more with people who talk too damn much and don’t let me get a word in and it turns out that that works best for me. Everything I say lately seems to be dyn-o-mite.

As a college student myself, I can say with certainty that everyone in college is an egotistical asshole at least some of the time. So, even if you are being a jerk, don’t worry about it. It’s perfectly normal. The single best piece of advice I got from a professor during my freshman year (last year) was this: “Be an arrogant jerk. Everyone else is, so you have to be too, or you’ll get trampled into the dirt.”

I found that when I an not medicated for my ADHD, my verbal impulsivity can get out of hand. The filter in my brain that is supposed to catch those thoughts that shouldn’t be spoken doesn’t work very well. I was walking into my microbiology lab one day and the professor, a crusty, grumpy, good looking, older gent, was filling sample containers from a very large, graduated cylinder. As I passed him on my way to my station, I thought, ‘That’s quite a cylinder you’ve got your hand around there pal.’ About three steps later I heard a snort and a wheeze. I turned to see my professor, laughing so hard he couldn’t breath. I realized I had actually spoken out loud. I could have died. Now I always take my meds before going out in public. Thank God the man had a sense of humor.