Shame saps courage, isolates people and prevents constructive discourse. However, empathy is shame’s antidote; it allows people to relate to each other with unabashed, genuine emotions.
The moment when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly named La La Land as the winner of the 2017 Academy Award for Best Picture will go down in history as one of the award ceremony’s all-time biggest bloopers. La La Land’s producer, Jordan Horowitz, upon learning the truth, humbly and graciously revealed the true winner, Moonlight, to millions of incredulous onlookers, and handed over the much coveted statuette to the team behind Moonlight.
This Tinseltown snafu echoes the awkward gaffe at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant, when presenter Steve Harvey erroneously announced Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutiérrez Arévalo, as the contest’s winner only to reveal the true winner, Miss Philippines, Pia Wurtzbach, moments later.
Such cringeworthy flubs are painful for all involved: While the victims want to bury their heads in the sand, onlookers suffer excruciating third-party shame. Yet embarrassing moments are an inevitable part of life. Shame is a deeply uncomfortable human emotion, but professor of research Brené Brown teaches how to be vulnerable and to survive shame with your dignity intact. Own up to your errors and admit fallibility. Doing so can foster feelings of shame, a deep sense of inferiority that feeds upon “secrecy, silence and judgment.” Shame saps courage, isolates people and prevents constructive discourse. However, empathy is shame’s antidote; it allows people to relate to each other with unabashed, genuine emotions. Therefore, the two most powerful words you can say to someone who is suffering the agony of personal shame are “me, too.”
To learn to handle this human foible, we recommend these five reads on overcoming embarrassment and leading with humility:
The Power of Vulnerability
What enables people to connect, and what impedes human connection? These questions triggered Brené Brown’s intensive study of vulnerability.
In this renowned TED Talk, the “researcher-storyteller” explains with delightful, self-deprecating humor how she learned to embrace her vulnerability – and why you should embrace yours.
Ready to discover the power of vulnerability? Don’t miss this talk.
Lead with Humility
This compelling profile of the pope’s strengths and vulnerabilities explains how you can emulate his leadership in a corporate environment.
After reading this book, you’ll know why Pope Francis has become one of the world’s most admired and respected figures.
Whatever your spiritual beliefs are, you will find profound inspiration in this portrait of Pope Francis’s humble – but effective – approach to leadership.
Will Your Next Mistake Be Fatal?
The biggest mistake you can make is assuming that a fatal blunder just couldn’t happen in your organization, and the second biggest is ignoring the warning signs that disaster is just ahead.
The key is to learn to admit that something has gone wrong before the situation spirals out of control.
Avoid disaster by learning how to recognize the warning signs…and if disaster hits, learn to deal with it.
With video-sharing websites and the proliferation of cellphone cameras, technology can expose every blunder and make it fodder for public opinion, so it’s crucial to admit when you’ve made a mistake, earnestly say you’re sorry and back up your regret with action. John Kador explains how.
He outlines the five elements of an effective apology – “recognition, responsibility, remorse, restitution and repetition” – and describes how to use them. He reinforces his suggestions with real examples of people who’ve succeeded or failed in an attempt to apologize.
What I learned from 100 days of Rejection
Entrepreneur Jia Jiang is all too familiar with rejection and its accompanying feelings of distress, embarrassment and inadequacy. Realizing that his sensitivity to negative responses was debilitating, Jiang took novel steps to become inured to rejection. With a large dose of self-deprecating humor, he describes his journey to conquering his greatest fear.