Avoiding Awkward Situations Finding the Right Words Eliza Hurwitz

Recently I started to eat mushrooms with mustard, because I really love mustard. Even worse/more embarrassing is that I was trying to explain to someone that the mushrooms are merely the vehicle for the mustard. But I forgot the wording of this phrase and thought that maybe it would make sense to say that the mushroom is the car for the mustard. This phrase should really never be used in this way, ever, but it made me think about how I could’ve gotten out of this situation and other situations involving phrases, sayings or words that I’m unsure of. So, I’ve come up with some great and easy solutions that will have you get through any difficult/confusing word situation.

Mumble It Out:

If you suddenly find yourself unsure of a word or phrase mid-sentence, mumbling is always a great option. I’ve found that I can mumble my way out of almost all potentially awkward word choices. I guess I’m just really talented in that regard. As a highly trained and skilled mumbler, I can tell you that it must seem authentic yet intelligent if you want your wrong word choice to go unnoticed. Let’s return to my mushroom sentence, for example. In this instance, I should’ve mumbled as I said the word car. I should’ve also made sure to not look confused as I mumbled. Instead, I would appear as if I had too many clever and insightful thoughts on my mind, forcing my word or words to get completely mumbled.

The eyes are key in giving off this impression. Your mouth should appear as normal as possible as you mumble, but your eyes should be moving back and forth, like one of those kit-cat clocks, with the pendulum tail and rolling eyes. This way, your eyes are saying, “We’re thinking.” Like most of my recommendations, it’s best to practice in the mirror before testing it out in the real world with real people. So practice your mumbling in conjunction with your crazy but smart eyes.

Cough Your Way Through:

If you are unable to master the mumble, another great way to hide a misused word is to cough your way through it. Make sure you pretend to say the word in question as you cough, but say it so it is unintelligible and so that the person you are talking with will have no way of knowing you don’t know the correct word. Again, let’s go back to the mushroom sentence; I would cough as I said the word car. But, I wouldn’t do just any normal cough, since that would sound too much like car. I would, instead, combine the word car and vehicle into a perfect and natural sounding cough. I would make sure to close my eyes as I cough. Not only does this inhibit the person from seeing the fear or confusion in my eyes, but also it’s the natural way of coughing. I would also try to look very ill and afraid, as if I really am sick, this way the person wouldn’t question my words. I would also try to make the cough sound authentically sick yet cute. You don’t want the other person to get too grossed out. I know this seems like a lot to keep in mind while coughing, but if you can master the adorable and only slightly disgusting sounding word cover up cough, then you can escape any conversation free from criticism.

Bluff Confidently:

Another option is to use the wrong word or phrase, but say it so confidently, with such conviction, that no one would ever dare to doubt you. If someone is bold enough to question you, try to give your phrase some authenticity and history. Once more, revisiting my mushroom mishap. I could’ve said, “I know mushrooms are the car for mustard, because, my grandma used to say it to me all the time. She invented the phrase and she invented the mushroom and mustard combination. She was a real visionary and quite the wordsmith.”

Another option is to just use the word or phrase, wrongly, and then laugh at yourself. Which is exactly what I did with my mushroom mistake.

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