I was recently at a networking event and had an awkward situation come up. I’m hoping you can give me some pointers to avoid this type of encounter in the future.
Here’s what happened: In the midst of a conversation with a gentleman I had just met, he asked if I knew “Joe Blow.” I responded with a chuckle, “Who doesn’t? Talk about a self-promoter.” That’s when things got uncomfortable. Turns out the guy I was talking to is “Joe’s” brother-in-law. I awkwardly tried to back-pedal, saying something like, “He’s an example for all of us, since everyone needs to be more comfortable promoting ourselves and our skills.” But the guy clearly heard the dig in my initial comment and was stone-faced. I quickly excused myself and have been berating myself ever since for my rash comment. Your thoughts?
-Foot in Mouth
Dear Foot in Mouth,
Chalk this one up to a lesson in the school of hard knocks! While I always encourage speaking your truth, this sounded a bit more like speaking your mind.
The good news is, I have a sure-fire tip for avoiding such a situation, and it’s equally useful in your professional and personal life. When asked if you know so-and-so, respond with, “Yes, I’m familiar with him. Why do you ask?”
Truth is, that one simple question will create clarity for you and allow you to proceed appropriately.