We’ve all been there. Someone asks you where you work. You answer by telling them the location of your office. This is typically followed by an awkward pause, a look best described as HUH?, and a follow up question: So, what company do you work for? Then the realization sinks in. That’s what they meant the first time…followed by blushing, stammering, and slight embarrassment. Or it could be the time that your boss greets you on Monday morning (pre-coffee), by saying, “I’m not used to seeing you in pants.” Naturally she’s referring to your propensity to wear nylons and skirts, but all Monday morning brain can muster is a puzzled look and a chuckle. Misunderstandings like these can make you feel, well, a little less than genius.
My favorite technique to fix this situation is to change the subject casually to a topic on which you are very knowledgable that will allow you to prove that you didn’t suffer minor brain damage over the weekend.
Say you’re a sports fan. A good follow-up to a weird moment is spontaneously asking about the most recent game, like it just popped into your head. Or if you went to the movies, you can ask them if they’ve seen it, and provide some witty commentary. The key is to distract, and showcase your intelligence.
Chances are, while they may have noticed your little response glitch that it didn’t register on the same scale of ULTIMATELY HUMILIATING that it seemed to you. To them, it was probably more of a HUH, THAT WAS ODD moment that they will easily forget when presented with a more interesting topic. And, if they were polite enough not to make fun of you on the spot about it, they probably have had it happen to them.
It’s like the technique used on toddlers. Get it immediately out of sight. Then, never mention it again, and it’s almost like it didn’t happen. Then file that question into the category of things you know how to respond appropriately to, from now on.