Recently I read the following excerpt in a NYT column titled “The Thrill of the Office Crush” by Roxane Gay https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/16/business/roxane-gay-work-advice-office-crush.html
I was honored to speak at an event in a professional capacity. …………. but I completely bombed. I spoke way too fast and stumbled over words. I kept seeing weird looks on the audience’s faces, which made it worse…………
I redeemed myself on the panel — I spoke clearly and the audience responded well to my commentary.
I am mortified and am not sure if I should say something to my peers or the woman who invited me, who I fear is in trouble with the head of her organization who was in attendance. Should I apologize? Say something to my fellow panelists when I see them again? And I know this is not a therapy column but any advice on getting over a professional embarrassment? I feel like a complete failure.
You can read the advice from Roxane in her column. Here we will explore this “experience” from the perspective of “Connector-Science” elaborated in our book: Spirituality In Practice https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BV49NPNQ
If the panelist were to distance from the event and experience – as I am able to as an unattached reader – the above message can be decomposed into several components, each having their own context and the connectors:
|Recollecting what happened: Participation as a panelist which started badly (“bombed”) got better with time (spoke clearly and the audience responded well to my commentary)||KNOWLEDGE – – Comprehensive self reflection of both the good and bad with equal consideration?|
|Dwelling on the past (I am mortified)||BIAS – – Emotional attachment to the possible outcome.Is this a self-imposed constraint?To reflect and engage in corrective action is objective and “Professional”. But, feeling “mortified” occurs when our knowledge of the professional opportunity given and the ability to course correct in the middle of a panel session are overlooked thanks to our desire (needs and wants) to look good all the time.|
|Dwelling on the future (I feel like a complete failure).Professional embarrassment!||Ignorance – – Conclusion and emotional burden, lacking objectivity or professionalism.Is this also a self-imposed constraint? There will always be success and failure, like the crest and depth of a wave. But, they are part of life. To judge the bottom of the wave as the “permanent” – total failure – would be ignorance on one’s part?|
While all of the above are coexisting, the prevailing “mood” or “experience” is a reflection of the dominant connector in each case.
|Present activity: Should I say something? |
The panelist (or the reader) could fill the table below through some Self-reflection.
|Person (s) involved||Self, Peers, the inviter, her boss, future audience, …..?|
|Means / ToolsHow?||“Explanation”? “Thank you”? “Apology”? Expression of genuine self-reflection”?|
|Circumstances||Under what situations?|
|Laws of Nature||Communication Skills|
This process – Science of Connectors – is the same irrespective of activity in any aspect of life!
But, there is a second and more important phase to the SiP. In the above we have attempted to analyze the various parts of the experience of this professional. Now, for a moment think about it: This professional is concerned about “I” and all that related to him/her! On the other hand, this professional is not thinking of all that enabled him to be in the panel, participate and contribute such as “Why was the panel session organized, what was the impact of the overall event for the audience? what were the take-aways for the organizers? benefits for the fellow panelists? …………” If this professional can look at the event in such a larger context, his/her “Objectivity” is further enhanced. Such thinking and reflection on the “Stake holder benefits”, may also lead to opportunities to engage with the inviter, her boss, fellow panelists, …. Through such engagement this panelist may learn even more details of his/her own participation and any follow up needed. In other words such open minded engagement and follow up may also ends up with some benefits to the self. This is generally identified as “Emotional Intelligence”, one of the transformational skills needed for the 21st Century professionals. https://stimsinstitute.com/2022/08/17/were-in-this-era-of-measurement-but-we-dont-know-what-we-should-be-measuring/
Third and final observation:
One can see underlying the entire spectrum – the panel discussion, panelist’s role as a speaker, follow up action as needed, ……- is the common need for being open minded and communication skills.
Both of these are aspects of nature. The more any professional reflects on these abstract enablers, the better they will be able to handle the emotional questions as well as genuine follow up with all stakeholders!.