It’s never as bad as you think and I’ve got first-hand proof!
I’m talking about those events, normally job interviews or public speaking events, that when you think back, you want to change everything that you said or did. When you think back, you cringe over your actions and wish you could turn back the clock and do it all over again.
Now I’ve personally experienced these feelings of remorse hundreds of times.
Why did I say that? Why didn’t I say this? Why didn’t I think of doing that?
Ring any bells?
Well when I say I’ve experienced these feelings and convinced myself I’m a laughing stock, I need to be clear. I used to experience these feelings and I used to convince myself I was a laughing stock.
But that changed at the end of last year.
It was pre-podcast era and I had arranged to interview a local Businessman (now known as BM) with a view to practising my podcast interview techniques. So, I trotted off and went to interview said BM. I had done my preparation, I had my questions ready and I had read up about this gentleman, so I felt ready and excited for the interview.
But the excitement evaporated as soon as I met him.
I became extremely nervous and I found it difficult to conduct a conversation with him. We proceeded to record the podcast and it was horrific. I remember leaving his office and wondering how I could ensure that I would never ever bump into this man again.
The shame of it all.
Anyway, life goes on and over the next few weeks I recorded a few more podcasts and although not great, I felt they were improving.
So, one day, about 6 weeks after the disastrous podcast, I felt brave enough to listen back over it and learn some lessons. I sat down with a big mug of coffee and pressed play, bracing myself for the cringe fest that was about to follow.
The podcast started and I listened and I listened a bit more.
Then something very very strange and unexpected happened.
I sounded good.
What’s more, BM sounded rubbish.
He was over talking me, not answering my questions properly, petulant when pushed for the answer, generally loving the sound of his own voice, boasting whenever he could and if I’m honest, he was boring.
The feeling of relief was almost euphoric.
It wasn’t my fault!
See? It’s never as bad as you think.
Now I’m not modest.
If I’ve done something well, I’m the first one to congratulate myself. I’m that type of person. But equally, when something hasn’t gone well, then it hasn’t gone well. I’m not looking for compliments or reassurance from others. It just means it hasn’t gone well and that’s that.
So, after the euphoria had calmed down, I got thinking about how I had managed to judge this situation wrongly?
Well, firstly, I hadn’t got it wrong in terms of it being a rubbish podcast, it was.
But what I had wrongly assumed, was that it was my fault. I had immediately blamed myself, I hadn’t even considered he was the problem.
Plus, my recollection of the event (that I was absolutely convinced was the truth) was in reality, was very very wrong. This is the most important point of this blog post actually.
Don’t automatically believe your memory as being the correct version of events because it’s probably not. I know there have been several scientific studies on this also, but I don’t personally need these as validation because I now have first hand experience.
This has also happened again with another podcast! Not as bad as the podcast with BM, but nearly as bad and it wasn’t until I listened back that I realised (again) that I did OK and had nothing to be embarrassed about.
So how can you learn from this?
- Don’t make the mistake of automatically blaming yourself after something has gone wrong. Sit down and try to analyse it logically. If someone else was present and it’s appropriate to ask them their view on the situation. Do it. My point is and to repeat myself, it’s likely that the event is not bad as you think. Plus it’s likely that your part is not as horrific as you thought. In fact I bet it’s not.
- Memories of an event are often wrong. This is why 6 people at the same dinner party can have six very different memories of it. As I said above, science has proved this, our memories are often skewed and often, totally incorrect. Don’t automatically believe what you remember. It’s likely to be skewed.
- Lastly, if you’re feeling nervous in the presence of someone, particularly someone in a position of power, it should be their mission to make you feel comfortable. If you don’t, it’s likely to be their problem and not yours. Try to remember that.
So going forward, please can I ask that you blame yourself and recollect past events with caution.
It’s likely you’ve got it wrong.