What's your worst embarrassing moment on stage

What embarrassing happened to me, how I reacted in a saving manner
and what I learned from it

I stand in front of a group of women. Everyone is looking at me. You listen to my words. Banned. And then it happens. What usually only happens in nightmares or films. And I want to be beamed away on the spot. By emergency transport.

In a quiet moment when everyone is reading something, a woman from the front row whispers something to me. I do not understand it at first. Take a step towards her.

"Mr. Maluschka", she whispers, "Your fly ..."

I look at myself, and indeed: open barn! Invitation to the slip contest! Unobstructed view of the private.

I don't know what my face looked like at that moment. My thoughts were racing.

Has anyone seen that? Sure, at least one!

Are they all starting to laugh? Maybe…

Oh my God! Am I wearing eye-catching underpants today? Something about color? I think so…

How did I react? How can you react in such situations?

1. Rescue: dubbing

I turned around as if nothing had happened and tried to close my zipper discreetly. I think I succeeded. Because nobody laughed.

However, this only works if no one actually notices. Or everyone can play along and pretend they haven't seen anything.

And of course everyone has to be kind to you. As soon as there is someone in the group who means harm to you, you have lost. Then only helps:

2. Rescue: Laugh at it

Here's what I actually experienced. And this time I actually thought I was in a movie. Fortunately, it didn't happen to me. And again a trouser fly played the most important role.

I was standing in front of a supermarket on a hot summer day. The sun was burning, people groaning in the heat. And when I saw him, at first I thought I had heat stroke. Surely that couldn't be!

A man in his 50s came strolling out of the supermarket. He looked unkempt, was fat, wore an old T-shirt and knee-length jeans. But what caught my attention was his fly.

It wasn't just open. No, it offered far more insight than I wanted.

The guy wasn't wearing underpants. And so he presented it clearly. Everything swung visibly to and fro.

At first I thought this might be some kind of voyeur. The thought flashed in me that I should speak to the guy. But then he noticed his mega faux pas, laughed loudly and pulled the zipper shut.

I think that was the only sensible reaction. Dubbing would no longer have worked. If you can laugh at your misfortunes, that's the best way to go. Because if someone laughs at you, you laugh together. And laughing in a group is always nice, isn't it?

3. Rescue: Talk about it yourself

The third story happened to me again.

I gave a lecture on my topic “What you can learn from karate for your conflicts”. People looked at me. I stood in the glaring light of the headlights. Everything went great. I felt good.

However, halfway through the lecture, it started. My nose was running.

My first reactions were rather unconscious. Ignore it.

But then it was no longer possible. I mistakenly believed that if I ran my hand under my nose for a moment, it would not be noticed on stage. In the glaring light of the headlights.

But at some point that didn't help either. So I went on the offensive and said, “So much for what can happen to you on stage. Does anyone have a handkerchief for me? "

Then I asked a viewer how it all looked. She said it was very human. Only I should react earlier the next time. As quickly as possible. Covering up doesn't work on stage.

But how can you basically react confidently to embarrassing incidents?

4. Rescue: The absolutely confident handling of embarrassments

The really sovereign reactions come very deeply from within. This means that you usually have a mental transformation process behind you. You worked on yourself.

The bad news: the process is taking time. Long.

The good news: Once you have completed it, you will rarely be ashamed and will react intuitively with confidence in embarrassing situations.

How do you get into this state?

First of all, we should ask ourselves where exactly our shame comes from.

It comes initially from the feeling of not having met social expectations or norms.

I am convinced that these norms are learned. The best evidence for this are the pictures of indigenous peoples that everyone has already seen. Or the nudist beach.

Wherever everyone is (half) naked, I am not ashamed of my exposure. However, if I were to stroll naked across Bonn's Münsterplatz, things would look different. Then I would probably even be arrested for causing public nuisance. (Whereby the word excitement in connection with nudity should actually have a positive connotation. But that's only marginally ...)

If you now internalize that your feelings of shame have been instilled, you can train them off again. The only problem is that the deeper your feelings go, the more difficult and tedious this reverse process is. And the earlier they were brought up to you.

Let's do an example.

You are in the meeting. Maybe even as the boss and thus the head of the event. Your stomach has been grumbling all morning. And then, of all times, it happens at a very quiet moment. An audible bowel wind escapes you.

What do you feel now How do you react

You will probably be ashamed, because well-groomed flatulence in public is simply not the right thing to do. Now you can react in one of the three ways I described above.

However, you react really confidently when you are no longer embarrassed about your organic storm. Even if you don't try to cover up the alleged mishap.

You might even comment: “It's a shame that there was no wind turbine behind me. I could have produced a lot of electricity there. "

You should already have most of the laughs on your side.

But you will only succeed in such a saying in a meeting if you dare to be yourself. For example, at a men's evening in front of the telly after a few beers, you naturally get rid of a pun after something else has escaped you. Here you are sincere, here you are completely human.

Ultimately, the degree of your shame depends on your sovereignty. If you care about recognition and the opinions of others, you will feel ashamed more often in life. If you manage to increase your self-esteem more independently of those around you, you will feel less embarrassed.

The same applies here: Don't overdo it! If you don't care about the opinions of others, you mutate into an unpopular sociopath.

And finally, you get a little tool on how to lower your shame line over time.

Whenever you feel ashamed again, ask yourself each time for what and why. If you have violated a norm, ask yourself the question: what happens now in the worst case?

Most of the time, when a norm is violated, the worst conceivable case is almost completely harmless in the medium term - i.e. a few weeks.

Just please don't let some norm violations become a habit. Anyone who permanently surrounds themselves with smelling bio-winds will automatically be avoided over time.


If something embarrassing happens to you, there are 4 ways you can react:

  1. Dubbing - pretending nothing happened
  2. Laugh about it - mostly with others
  3. Address it yourself - appears confident and personable
  4. The royal road - withdraw your shame over time. Then you react always authentic, personable and confident.

How did you react in embarrassing situations? Can you think of another good way to go?

Axel Maluschka
Axel Maluschka is the Black Belt Speaker & Trainer. He is a business mathematician, business coach and author. In his free time he fights himself regularly and has written 7 books about it with his trainer. He is the director of the Shobushinkai karate dojo. That inspired him to develop the Osu! System for confident entrepreneurs and strong teams. As a karateka, he says, "I haven't won every fight in my life. But I've learned from everyone."

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