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Escaping Embarrassment - Essay Example

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The author keeps a close reference to Goffman’s theory of defensive and protective face work, arguing that individuals always follow certain…
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Escaping Embarrassment
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Escaping Embarrassment This article examines the different defensive learned behaviors that people develop with the sole purpose of warding off embarrassment. The author keeps a close reference to Goffman’s theory of defensive and protective face work, arguing that individuals always follow certain prescript techniques and particular learned behaviors in an attempt to overcome embarrassing situations when interacting with other individuals. It also implores the idea of collateral face saving whereby individuals share the pressure of sustaining a particular interaction. The individual with whom pressure is shared intervenes to keep the partner from losing face in case of an embarrassing moment.
A strong example that the author closely relates to is that of a rapper who is performing on stage to a particular audience. It’s noted that when a rapper is close to making an embarrassing mistake such as an abrupt stop during a performance, they instead use rhymes that are prewritten. This closely brings out a learned behavior that the rapper has internalized to avoid bringing the performance to an abrupt stop. Alternatively, a colleague with whom they share the duty of keeping the performance going may actually chip in and continue with the rapping. This timely intervention keeps the performance going on and spares the other rapper the embarrassment of messing it up. This is what the author refers to as collateral face saving. Hence, an individual can escape embarrassment through either employing “canned resources” which are behaviors that have been learned over time or through collateral face saving. These same social resources can be employed in other social situations that require an individual to save their face and avoid an embarrassing situation (Jooyung).
First, a distinct connection with these observations was made by Goffman as he explores the presentation of an individual in everyday life. He keenly looks at factors that affect face to face interactions. Goffman argues that when a performer comes on stage to perform, he or she will always try to influence the impression of the audience by altering his or her setting, appearance or manner. Concurrently, the person the individual is interacting with is on the same hand attempting to get information about the performer. Hence, Goffman observed that all parties involved in a particular social interaction are automatically involved in particular practices aimed at either avoiding embarrassing others or being embarrassed (Gofman).
Secondly, the author, Sawyer compares individuals as actors without a script in everyday conversations that they engage in. As people make a dialogue, creativity is required to make the dialogue go along. This shows that there are certain techniques of maintaining conversations. During a conversation, there are numerous sources of embarrassment. A person may lose their train of thought as the conversation goes on. During this moment, someone else may start a new train of thought that continues the conversation or crack a joke that lightens the moment. This will be a protective measure that enables the other person to save face. Hence, conversations are like a script that is being constantly rewritten and improvisations made. It’s as if individuals are programmed to behave in a particular way during such conversations (Sawyer).
Generally, what we learn is that individuals rely on each other during embarrassing moments. People protect each other as an improvisation to save face during such moments. When an individual makes a mistake that causes an abrupt break in the smooth flow of the moment, someone else can chip in and save the moment and bring the tension to an end. Silence can only be a way of withholding such protection from an embarrassing moment.
References
Gofman, Erving. "Various excerpts from The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life." (1959): (pp. 1 -­‐ 16, 18 – 27, 76 – 87, 106 – 123).
Jooyung, Lee. "Escaping Embarrassment:: Face-­work in the Rap Cipher." Social Psychology Quarterly." (2009): 4: 306 -­‐ 324.
Sawyer, R K. “Ch 1: Scripts and improvisations” in Creating conversations: Improvisation in everyday discourse (2001): (pp. 7 – 41). Read More
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