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Posted by: Lindsey Gerdes on June 02
As a young professional, I (like many of us) have worried about coming across as mature and capable. I’ve written about wearing power suits in situations in which I felt particularly uncomfortable, whether the occasion called for it or not.
But there’s one thing I’ve never been able to overcome—my tendency to blush—whether I’m meeting somebody new, standing up to give a presentation, or asking a question in a crowded lecture hall. I turn a dark shade of crimson every single time.
It's partially due to my extremely fair complexion and perhaps also related to my initial discomfort at being thrown into new situations. Whatever the case, I've always considered this a nervous tic that I wished I could get rid of; a sort of poker tell that gave away my nervousness.
That's why I was somewhat intrigued--and encouraged--to read a New York Times article today about the positive aspects of blushing. I didn't even realize there were any! But according to writer Benedict Carey, blushing helps establish a sort of connection with others and sometimes actually diffuses awkward social situations:
..A blush is far more than a stigmata of embarrassment. It is a crucial signal in social interactions--one that functions more often to smooth over betrayals and blunders than to amplify them.
In a series of recent studies, psychologists have found that reddening cheeks soften others' judgements of bad or clumsy behavior, and help to strengthen social bonds rather than strain them. If nothing else, the new findings should take some of the personal sting out of the facial fire shower when it inevitably hits.
Whether or not there's any truth to this argument, the writer did bring up a useful point for nervous young professionals. Don't waste your time feeling self-conscious about a trait that's largely out of your control..and even try to use it to your advantage if at all possible.