Avoiding Awkward Situations Awkwardness: No Laughing Matter Eliza Hurwitz

I don’t know what it is about laughing when you shouldn’t that feels so good. Unfortunately, this can draw unwanted attention and can be considered inappropriate, insensitive or even just plain rude. But sometimes, you just can’t help it. That’s why I’m here to give you some advice on how to get through this potentially awkward situation.

With A Group:

I’ve talked about this before, but during awkward encounters, your environment is your best friend. Let’s say you’re at dinner with some co-workers. The pressure is on, you want to make a good impression but someone starts telling a depressing news story. I don’t know why but whenever someone says something sad, the first thought I have in my head is don’t laugh. And that just makes me laugh. A good option in this situation is to take a napkin and completely cover your mouth so no one can see that you’re laughing. You may even have to stomp on the ground a couple of times to hide the noise of laughter. Another option is to just shove food in your mouth. Really, anything you can do to cover up your laugh hole is perfect.

A helpful tip in this situation is don’t take a sip of your drink. If you spit out said drink the chances of you being invited to dine with these people again are very slim.

By Yourself:

If you’re just walking by yourself and you get hit with a laugh attack, don’t worry, this one’s easy to handle. Just get out your phone and call someone, anyone. If you can’t think of anyone to call just pretend to call someone and laugh super hard on the phone. This may be weird but trust me, it’s a lot less weird to talk to a pretend person than to laugh hysterically to yourself.

Put on the Performance of Your Life:

Trying not to laugh when you feel a laugh attack coming on takes great skill, willpower and creativity. That’s why if you’ve got a flair for the dramatics and suffer from frequent laugh attacks, you are in luck. You’ll really be able to put your theatrical skills to the test. Pretend to cough, cry, sneeze, really any gesture you can do to cover up your laugh that is appropriate for the situation you’re in is fair game. For example, let’s say you’re giving a presentation about the catastrophic effects of global warming – feel free to turn that laugh into a cry. This will cause your audience to believe you’re extremely sensitive and compassionate.

Another way you can dramatize your laughter is holding in your laughter as best you can until someone says something even remotely funny. Then laugh as hard as you need to, in order to get your silliness out. This comes in handy at such dinner parties mentioned before. The crying trick is also ideal for a dinner situation, since you have water on the table that you could easily use as tears. Just be careful about mixing the tears with the dramatized laugh, because people may suspect it’s all an act, or think you’re crazy and emotional. (Which you may be, but people don’t need to know that.) To avoid this, attempt the crying trick first, followed by the laugh and say in the most genuine way you can, “It feels so good to laugh again.” Then you’ll really be the life of the party because not only are you sympathetic, you have courageously triumphed over your sorrow.

You’re now prepared to handle any inappropriate laughing situation. Just please do not attempt to completely hold in your laughter, as this will only result in a laughter explosion that could cause physical harm to yourself, like a rupture of some internal organ, as well as causing those nearby to become unduly alarmed.

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  1. This is all very good advice. I wish I had read it about a week ago. My friends and I went to see One Day, and after having read the book and the reaction after having read it, I knew there was great potential for a tear fest. Not gonna ruin it for anyone who has not read or seen it yet, but when the sad parts came, I got a little teary buuuutttt a BIG GIGANTIC laugh attack got a hold of me. To make matters worse, as the theater full of women mostly was silent, a girl sitting a couple seat isles behind us started crying, like weeping heavy and gasping for air, and that made me laugh even harder. I tried very hard to keep it in. This was towards the end of the film so I had no food left to stuff in my mouth. I kept pressing one hand over my mouth and pinching my lap with the other, but it wasn’t working. My best efforts to contain my self failed me. and then my friends started laughing too. It was pretty bad. There was this one girl weeping, and then there was us laughing, and everyone else was just silent, and quite possibly judging us all in their silence. Ha.