Opposites attract We may be reluctant to laugh at ourselves as we don’t want to draw attention to our mistakes or let others think it’s OK to make fun of us. Try saying the opposite of how you feel, such as, ‘Splendid!’. ‘The obvious difference between how you feel and how you respond should trigger laughter,’ says Lois McElravy, who runs humour workshops. ‘Lighten the mood further by asking, “Does this mean I won’t get nominated for Employee of the Month/The Good Wife Award?”’
Avoid put-downs ‘Finding humour in stressful moments allows you to separate who you are from what you do,’ says McElravy. ‘You may have done something stupid, but you’re not a stupid person.’ Avoid over-using self-deprecating humour, as it can seem as though you’re fishing for compliments.
Be your own audience Would you find the same situation funny if it were happening to someone else? Try seeing your life as a sit-com. When something embarrassing happens, imagine how a live audience would see it. Visualise your slip-ups as a reel of bloopers, and laugh at their absurdity.
Erase awkwardness for others When used correctly, humour can relax those who witness your goof. ‘People remember how well someone handled a tense moment long after they forget what was done to cause it,’ says McElravy. ‘We respect someone who can recover from unexpected circumstances without getting rattled.’ Show others that you won’t let one moment or mistake undo you.
Photograph: Ralf Nau