Picture this: You’re in a meeting with your department, manager and the CEO. The meeting is going nowhere (as most meetings do) and your CEO decides to crack a lame joke. What follows is probably one of the most horrific scenes of your life - that scars you forever - but it happens nevertheless. Your manager takes a deep breath and erupts into a loud cackle, while the rest of the team members convulse their faces to let out what can only be described as ‘painful laughter’. The room is full of noise - yes loud poke-your-eyes-out noise , all the while the CEO has a smug expression on his face as he feels victorious in his ability to make his employees laugh and ‘have a good time’ at work.
If you have been part of this, my deepest condolences, but all I can say is: it gets worse. Fake laughter is probably the most annoying part of working in a professional environment. It happens all the time. We are completely and utterly surrounded by it. It is unavoidable and we know it. The only way to tackle it is to succumb to it and just do it.
Here are some pointers on how to master the art of fake laughing to get ahead:
Don’t be the loudest
The loudest laugh is the one that sounds the fakest. Try to steer clear from guffawing off your chair, instead go for a subtle yet believable laugh that is close to your actual laugh. This way you surely won’t be the last one laughing!
Fake laughs are mostly identified by their abruptness - it is impossible to laugh for 45 seconds and then have a straight face for a discussion. Try to smile after your fake laugh to give your effort the touch of sincerity.
Cover your mouth
Personally, I don’t think it is easy to fake laugh, but if you really must - cover your mouth a bit to give the impression that you are trying to control yourself. Your hand will distract the watcher and make them feel like you are just blown away by their humor.
Think of something funny
If all else fails, have a go-to memory that always makes you laugh. I always think of an episode of the TV show Friends (for example: the time Rachel and Phoebe are trying to distract Ross from seeing Monica and Chandler getting caught in ugly naked guys apartment - it’s my personal favorite!) Whatever memory you choose, make sure you don’t get too engrossed because you do have to stop laughing.
So the next time your manager looks at you after cracking a lame joke, just go for it and laugh like nothing funnier has ever been heard in the world. Trust me, silence after a joke or funny remark just creates an awkward aftermath where someone’s ego is bound to be bruised!