That moment when someone struts onto a stage with bucketloads of confidence and a true belief they are the next Elvis… but sings out of tune and dances with no rhythm and you want to throw things! Verguenza Ajena (pronounced ver-gwen-tha-a-hey-na) is what the Spanish call this horrible but strangely liberating feeling. It is the shame or embarrassment felt as the result of the actions of someone else, usually a stranger. The most visceral experience of verguenza ajena is felt when dealing with the most self important or thick skinned people, politicians and the powerful in particular. Linguists think that the reason the Spanish have named this emotion is as a result of the high importance in Spain of not losing one’s dignity. Interestingly the last piece of food left on a plate is called “el de la verguenza” as whoever eats it should feel shame!
Dominic Tidey is the C.O.O. of EuRA, the European Relocation Association. EuRA is the professional industry body for relocation providers and affiliated services. As a non-profit organisation EuRA aims to promote the benefits of a professionally managed relocation to companies with globally mobile employees.