Self deprecating humour is something that can be used to help or to hinder, depending on how and with whom you use it. I consider myself a connoisseur (thank you, spell check). In fact, I would even venture further and say that two conversational tools have carried me through the awkward social interactions which plagued my adult life – self deprecation and flattery (always sincere of course).
If you were to ask what I considered most important to me, I would blush and hang my head before mumbling a response, because my answer, as a 30 year old, I would say is fickle and fills me with hot shame. What is this terrible thing? I don’t even want to write it…I want everyone to like me. Oh! The shame! I realise many people would say they desire the same, though are able to get over it for the most part, but myself? I struggle to get over knowing that I’ve offended or displeased someone and retreat into myself like an armadillo, face to face with a…well, whatever is tough enough to chew through an armadillo….the general populous in my case.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m working through it, but it is a much reviled trait of mine, carried over from my formidable years (and I’m pretty sure many of you, especially the women unfortunately, might know what I’m talking about). The thing is, while working on my whole ‘Who gives a f**k?’ attitude (yeah you’re intimidated, go on, admit it), I never gave any thought to the self deprecating style of humour I had adopted and still indulge on a very regular basis. Not until I noticed something recently. During a conversation, I made some joke about myself (probably about being stupid or fat or ugly, who knows, roll a dice) and in my hilarity actually took a moment to take in my conversational partner’s face….and I don’t think I was being as funny as I thought I was. And it hit me. This is not witty. This is a problem.
Many see self deprecation as a rod to fish for compliments but cross my heart, this is not an intention of mine (well, certainly not in the last 4 years or so). I honestly believe the things I say and think that others must be thinking it too, so I try to make them more comfortable by acknowledging the things they must be noticing. It sounds ridiculous out loud, but have to ask… Have you been guilty of this too? If so, then stop! The way we see ourselves often sets the tone for how others see and value us. We cannot hope to garner any kind of respect if we cannot respect ourselves. Ooops! I forgot to insert a cliché alert at the beginning of the sentence there, but hey, don’t those clichés just love to creep up on us? It’s not like we don’t understand these ‘rules’…it’s just in the application that we struggle….speaking for myself anyway.
So this is the new self improvement side project – tone down on the self deprecation and use it solely as a tool to make people more comfortable during times of need. Do not use it at work (unless I become big kahuna and need to put the underlings on side), at uni, or in general conversation (unless they’re really close friends). This will tie in nicely with the ongoing ‘learn to accept a compliment graciously’ project which I’ve been practising. If we can all learn to do this, we’ll be self confident super heroes in no time. Though now I think I’m going to have to pull out the joke book – I have a rep to maintain…
Ross pic courtesy of http://static.fjcdn.com/pictures/That+s+not+funny+me+when+someone+makes+a+joke+about_8da1a3_4104722.jpg