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Freudian nips: How to recover when you say things you don’t mean

Ah, Freudian slips – super embarrassing for you, but so damn funny for everyone else.

There are very few things in this world funnier than a good Freudian slip. ESPECIALLY if you’re a newscaster going live to millions and millions of people.


Excuse me for a second, just going to need a minute to compose myself.


Alright, where were we? Ah yes, Freudian slips.

While they can be undeniably hilarious, they can also lead to some of the most awkward situations that you’ll ever encounter.

For instance, just a couple of weeks ago, when my boss was leaving the office on a Friday – instead of saying, “I’ll see you Monday”, my idiot brain blurted out, “I love you” – at which point I crawled up in a ball under my desk and have only just recently resurfaced.

That’s the most devastating thing about Freudian slips, Freud (the dude they were named after, obviously) said that they revealed subconscious feelings.

Freudian Slip comic by Cyanide and Happiness

Credit: Cyanide and Happiness

And even though most of his work has been largely disproven, it’s not going to stop people from raising their eyebrows.

So how do you recover from a catastrophic verbal blunder with your dignity still intact?

You’ve got a few options:

Just barrell through

Look, if you’re in a loud enough place and you haven’t missed a beat, just keep rolling through your sentence as if nothing happened.

They’ll think “Wait, did he say he say he had ‘Just do your breast’? – He musn’t have, otherwise he’d be acting weird…”

This approach requires supreme confidence and it’s high risk, high reward – but if you manage to pull it off, you’ll be in the clear.

This is fine

(Credit: KC Green)

Laugh it off

This is your second-best option – if you have a slip-of-the-tongue, just own it.

Have a laugh, playfully insult yourself and hopefully you and the other person have a funny little in-joke for the next few months.

This is the best way to eliminate awkwardness, the worst possible thing you can do is leave the weird thing you said just lingering there without anyone acknowledging it.

This way you deal with a bit of embarrassment in the short-term, but you can quickly move on and get on with your life.

Indignant defiance

It’s easy:

Them: “Um..did you just call me ‘mum’?”
You: “No.”
Them: “I’m pretty sure you just said mum.”
You: “I 100% did not.”
Them: “Are you sure?”
You: “I have literally never been more sure of anything in my life.”

Create a distraction

Alright we’re down to Plan D, now so things are gonna get pretty bleak.

Before the other person has time to process it you’re going to need to create some sort of elaborate distraction.

The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, but here are some options I prepared earlier:

1. Fake a heart-attack.
2. Scream “FIRE” and sprint out of the building.
3. Suddenly pretend as though you’ve forgotten how to speak English à la Lohan.
4. Start spontaneously performing a magic trick (note: requires preparation).
5. Take all of your clothes off (yes, ALL your clothes).
6. Perform an interpretive dance.
7. Point to the window and say “OMG, what’s that!?” Then run away when their back is turned.

Or if worse comes to worse, just moonwalk out of there.

They’ll be so impressed by your sweet dance moves they’ll forget about any wack stuff that came out of your mouth.

Awkward moments can’t always be avoided, but Sprite is determined to help you own the moment.

From the science behind embarrassment, to the psychology behind Freudian slips, Techly’s teaching you the best ways to cope with awkward. Feel the heat? #needasprite

About the author

Technically, Riordan writes culture, politics and sport, but 80% of his words are direct quotes stolen from The Simpsons. He promises to tweet more at @riordanl and speaks words for The Zero Thumbs Down Podcast.

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