I’m all for having fun conversations. And one of the best methods I’ve found for intriguing my “audience” is by the use of self-deprecation. I don’t mean in the serious sense of the meaning. Instead, I am referring to the humor side of self-deprecation. Also known as making fun of yourself, this method does a number of things. The most important thing being that it helps lower the guard of your audience. I’ve found this especially true on first dates or first interactions with new people. Meeting someone for the first time can be stuffy. It can be a weird mental loop of trying to figure out who they are, what will resonate with them, what I’m allowed to say, what should I not say, are we a good fit, and so on. Each interaction with someone, you essentially make your own unique language with that person. You develop a flow to your conversations, inside jokes, small cues, and new bonds. Once this new language is settled upon, the conversations get easier. However, getting to a comfortable agreed upon language can be awkward at times. And self-deprecating humor is the best tool in my toolbox that helps quicken this process up as pain free and enjoyable as possible.
The vast majority of people out there are trying to impress someone by being smart, having money, being funny, being fit, and a bunch of other superficial ways. My approach is a bit different. A complete 180 rather. I try to be self-deprecating. This isn’t the entire strategy. However, look for moments to chime in and take a jab at yourself. This has an amazing effect on our audience. First and foremost, it lowers their guard. Meaning as you put yourself down, essentially, it’s saying that you are putting her above you. Or him depending on the social situation. This will make your audience feel better about him or herself and give them some breathing room since first interactions can get stuffy. It’ll take a lot of the pressure off the conversation because it’ll show you don’t take yourself too seriously and the conversationalists can now relax and enjoy themselves. Every successful date that I’ve been on, there has been some level of self-deprecating humor involved. One of my favorite things to point out on a date is how immature I am. Now, obviously this is a joke. No one would ever admit on a date to a girl that they are trying to court, that they are immature. That’s the humor part. It also shows that I have a carefree and kiddy-like side. Because no matter how serious and smart we all try to show off to people, we are all just kids underneath. And me being comfortable in that reality can at times be refreshing to some people because it’ll make them more comfortable with themselves too.
Another benefit of using self-deprecating humor is to get yourself out of a jam when there is negative light shining on you. If there is an asshole that you work with that likes taking “friendly” jabs at coworkers, then this will also come in handy. I have a very unique name. And often times, people like to make jokes about my name. It doesn’t necessarily bother me, but I still wish they didn’t do it. Over time, I’ve trained my brain to just roll with the punches no matter what type of punch comes my way. So, with the name scenario, I’ll lean into it. After they make a weird nickname for me, I’ll say, “Well, I’ve been called worse.” This does wonders to the room. It lowers their weapons because you’ve showed that their attack (even if it’s friendly) has done no damage. It also points out to everyone around you that you are mild mannered, showing that people can feel comfortable around you without the worry of an overreaction. It will also make the asshole coworker look like a dick. Because he just tried to take a jab at an innocent person who doesn’t wish to fight back. And most importantly, you may get a laugh out of it.
There are many ways to use self-deprecating humor. The most important thing to remember is to roll with the punches and use it wisely. Don’t try and do too much of it. It will stand out as you are trying too hard and that’s not a cool trait in some social settings. It’s better to wait for the opportunities to arise naturally, then sprinkle it in where you see fit. Don’t get embarrassed when something doesn’t go your way, or someone says something unflattering about you. Stay calm and lean into it perhaps with an over-exaggerated joke. Often, this will make the reality of the situation less intense. Use this strategy on first dates and initial interactions with people. You’ll find that it makes having conversations much easier for everyone and you’ll have more fun doing so. And people are drawn to this in others which is why it’s a great tool for dates. Use wisely, and you’ll be more fun to be around.