We have all had those moments when we do something silly and then pause; should we laugh or should we cry? If, in those moments of embarrassment and awkwardness you choose to laugh chances are you are a satisfied and fulfilled person.
Two distinct studies have shown that people who have the ability to laugh at themselves displayed positive and desirable qualities. The first of these studies con conducted by Ursula Beermann and Willibald Ruch people who know how to laugh at themselves tend to be more cheerful and less serious than those who remain solemn. The second one shows a surprising link between the ability to laugh at oneself and your leadership potential.
The first study consisted of seventy undergraduate students. The students were asked to rate their ability to laugh at themselves. They then selected on or two peers to provide their external opinion on the issue. While the participants were filling out their questionnaires on a computer the screen camera took a picture of them; without their knowledge of awareness. The researchers then manipulated and distorted the photos.
They participants were then shown six distorted images of themselves. The facial responses of the participants were videotaped and analyzed. The researchers looked for four signs: experienced funniness, smiles, Duchenne displays (which are symmetrical smiles that involve creasing of the muscles around the eyes), and laughter. Fake and masking smiles were also studied and recorded.
80 percent of participants showed a genuine smile at least once when viewing their distorted image. The participants who stated in the survey that they were able to laugh at themselves proved to be correct. Furthermore, their peers’ perception of them supported their correct self-assessment. These people also showed fewer signs of fake smiles and negative emotions.
Those participants who laughed more at themselves tended to be more cheerful, less serious in nature and were in a better mood on the day of testing.
A second study conducted by Researchers Colette Hoption, Julian Barling, and Nick Turner found that in the workplace, leaders who are able to laugh at themselves and not at their colleagues were viewed as more likable, caring and trustworthy.
The researchers hypothesized that when a leader joked about themselves in a critical way people would view them as someone who values jokes and shows concern for others.
By making fun of themselves the leaders showed disregard for the difference in status between them and their workers and this was viewed as concern for others.
The study consisted of 155 business students. The students were placed in one of four humor conditions: making fun of yourself, making fun of someone else, making fun of a common trait between the leader and the employees, and a control condition with no humor. The participants were then asked to read a speech that introduced a new employee. The line the participants read out was changed according to the group they were placed in. For example, the people in the making fun of yourself group read out a line that joked about themselves: “I am so glad that Pat took this job despite knowing all about me!”
The leader who poked fun at themselves was rated as more trustworthy and a better leader.
Poking fun at yourself is a trait that has many benefits. It builds up a sense of trust in the workplace; makes you more likable and gives you a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. If you are a person who knows how to make a good joke about yourself then you may already be reaping the benefits. If, however, you tend to be more solemn, why not try cracking a few self- deprecating jokes here and there? Just take a moment and laugh at yourself.
Check out my related post: What is fake laughter?