You've got shit on your face

You've got shit on your face

You find yourself in the communal area at work. That little space where people go to make coffee or share cake on someone's birthday.

There's a co-worker there. One that you don't know particularly well.

A conversation starts, small talk, the weather, the back to school traffic etc...

However, the whole time you're speaking to them there is one thought running through your mind...

"You've got shit on your face."

"You've got shit on your face."

"You've got shit on your face."

It might be chocolate cake, you cant be 100% sure, but whatever it is they somehow managed to  get a big wet chunk of it stuck halfway between the corner of their mouth and their ear.

"How can they not feel that?" is the next thought that runs through your mind.

You of course wonder if you should tell them, but you've been talking for a while now so it's a bit awkward.

"Ok, well I better get back to it!" you say and rush away, glad to be out of that situation.

But now you feel a bit guilty... You would want to be told, and they will realize it eventually and wonder why you didn't tell them.

What does it all mean?

I feel like the above scenario would play out very differently depending on who it is you are talking to.

If it was a close friend or family member you would of course tell them straight away if they are in that potentially embarrassing situation.

However, if it's someone you don't really know, that feels less likely.

It's even worse if you are confronted with someone with an open fly. Telling them about it is telling them that you just had a good look at their crotch.

Our social behaviors differ wildly when they involve people we don't know. People from outside your 'tribe'.

I can't help but wonder if it is some inbuilt system to minimize the risk of conflict.

Imagine you thought someone had some food on their face and you pointed it out, but it turned out to be a mole or some sort of birthmark.

We often don't have enough information to be able to safely comment on a strangers situation, meaning we are increasing the risk of embarrassing them, or ourselves, so we say or do nothing.

With friends and family we know a lot more, so we feel more confident in every interaction, including some that maybe embarrassing otherwise.

And what if we flip the story above so you are the one with shit on your face?

You would want to be told about it, but you’d likely feel a red hot flash of embarrassment if it was a stranger that told you.

But if it was a friend that told you, you’d probably laugh.

Of course some people don't care either way and they will say anything to anyone. We all know one of those…

The point is that every social situation is loaded with variables and subtle complexities.

It's ok to feel overwhelmed and anxious about them at times.

How Suggestable are you?

How Suggestable are you?

Contagion

Contagion