Monday, January 31, 2011

Embarrassing Situations

Your colleague’s fly is open, your friend has a giant run in her stocking, your lunch mate has spinach stuck between his front teeth, or someone has feloniously bad breath. What do you do?
First of all, you have to be direct but discreet. Get the person out of earshot of other people and say, “Your fly is open,” in the same tone of voice you would use to say, “It’s raining outside.” If you don’t know the person, find somebody in the group who does to give the message.
You are in a more serious situation if you have a friend who has a particular and persistent bad habit or something like chronic bad breath. If he’s a real friend, you have to tell him about it even if you know he won’t like it. Use the “critical I” if you can. “I’ve been told that I’ve had bad breath from time to time, but it seems to be a chronic problem with you. Maybe you have a dental problem you don’t know about, or it might be just a matter of using mouthwash more often. That’s what worked for me.” The story or analogy you convey doesn’t necessarily have to be about the exact problem that your friend has. If you haven’t had that exact problem before, choose a story that shows parallels to the other person’s situation.

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