Top Skills Thursday: Laugh at Yourself

We have all had that moment where we’ve said or done something and suddenly realized it was not what we intended.

Those moments can be rough, depending on who is around you. Doing it in an interview could potentially mean a missed opportunity, so it’s stressful. I get that.

But can you think of a time when you laughed at yourself for what you did?

That instance was likely free of anxiety and you were able to move past it with ease. Why? Because you were able to see the humor in the moment. Laughing at yourself doesn’t need to be a way you put yourself down, either. It can just be as simple as recognizing things did not go as planned just then.

Did you know that if you laugh at something you’ve done, it removes stress from others, too? People who’ve just witnessed your moment of oops are probably unsure how to respond. If you laugh at it, they know it’s not a big deal and relax.

I’ve done this many times, when I trip, say a word that doesn’t mean what I intended (or just as bad has a double meaning), or even when I’m completing a simple task. Examples? I’ll save you the novel and give you just a few.

  • Making coffee and put coffee grounds in my cup instead of sugar. (Response: Okay, well, I clearly need the coffee today.)
  • Forget that I just closed a glass door and walk into it. (Response: I’m a cat. none of you saw that.)
  • Walk into the wrong meeting at work. (Hi, sorry to interrupt. I don’t feel prepared for this meeting. I’ll just go to the other one.)

If you see how that happened, you can see how the tension, the sinking feeling of “everyone is going to laugh at me/think I’m stupid/look down on me/other catastrophe” isn’t allowed to rule the moment. Instead, I step right up to the helm and sail my little fail boat right back to port.

While I have had practice so these responses to my mistakes come more quickly now, it has to start somewhere. For me, that place was a nervous chuckle and “That wasn’t what I intended.” Just one simple statement. Over time I became faster at the witty responses and expanded beyond the one line I rehearsed.

Give it a shot. See how much less stressed you feel about your mistakes when you use this method to defuse the anxiety of them. I bet you’ll be glad you did!

All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

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