How to keep a straight face while dying to laugh out loud?
How to keep a straight face while lying?
For some, not hard enough.
Training yourself to exhibit a placid exterior, when you’re feeling angry or sad, or for that matter – silly? Keeping that straight face through a poker game, a critical conversation, a negotiation – no matter what?
Fear of mimes?
Yeah. Me, too. Sort of like the clown thing, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
How to Keep a Straight Face When Telling a Joke
I cannot keep from smiling when telling a joke. For that matter, I’m lousy at telling jokes – period. I tend not to remember the most delicate of details, I screw up the punchline, and of course, both throw off the entire experience for the listener.
Some say that the trick to telling a joke (and not giving it away) is to tell it to yourself in your head so many times that it becomes automatic. Some say to practice it so many times you will resist the inclination to smile or chuckle. Others say take deep breaths, though I can’t imagine that one would work for me.
Why is it that some people are so good at this – naturally? Any secrets to share on how to master that deadpan expression when telling a funny story?
How to Keep a Straight Face in a Serious Conversation
e-How offers suggestions on how to maintain the necessary demeanor in a serious conversation – when you really want to chuckle, chortle or give in to the giggles. Now perhaps the desire to laugh is due to a situation that strikes you as amusing. Or, nervous laughter may be an issue (as it is for many) when you’re at a loss for words and embarrassed.
Their suggestions on this topic include:
… Clench your jaws and press your lips together to stop laughing… Lightly bite the inside of your cheek… Thrust your hands into your pockets… Think of something sad… Pretend to cough or sneeze…
Clenching and thrusting? Nope. Not for me. The One-Two-Cough-or-Sneeze? That sounds much better. Another source suggests doing math in your head. Now I think that just might work for yours truly.
How to Lie With a Straight Face
Do you really think I’m going to provide tips on lying? Hell no! But I will say this – consummate liars do indeed give themselves away, though it may be with micro-expressions as explained by WebMD – and not the non-verbal clues that we imagine.
While a good liar may have mastered relaxing his or her facial muscles and looking you in the eye with the usual blinking rate, here are a few other gestures that may give them away:
- Timing of a “fake” smile (often less wide than usual, and held too long)
- A change in breathing
- Covering or touching one’s mouth even slightly
- Fiddling with fingers, clenching a fist
- Fidgeting / shuffling one’s feet
For those who would deceive on a regular basis, the “straight face” comes all too easily. And that, in my opinion, is no laughing matter.
Poker Face for Face Time
Many of us now meet online in our professional lives, availing ourselves of Skype or Face Time.
Don’t we frequently depend on a poker face for these interactions, too? Is this any different than sitting across the table in a conference room, for the presentation, the negotiation, or the conversation on a tough topic?
These experiences of face time need practice like anything else, and perhaps more so because we need to remember that our expressions will be seen in detail and anxiety, anger or trepidation may be less easily camouflaged than we may think.
Fear of Mimes and Clowns
Every time I used to see Ronald McDonald (no offense to his creators), I used to cringe. For that matter, I have vague recollections of Bozo the Clown. And yes, the very thought brings additional cringing. And Marcel Marceau, as renowned as he was? And films that occasionally pay homage to the antics (and talents) of the mime?
I’m slightly unsettled, though I’m unable to explain it.
Is it the way they seem to mock you? Is it the absence of verbal language? Is anyone else out there also uneasy around these eerie entertainments?
By the way, it seems the fear of clowns is not uncommon, and a term for it was coined in the 1980s. Coulrophobia. Go figure!
As for how to keep a straight face when unexpectedly encountering a creepy clown or menacing mime – and not show your consternation, your malaise, your outright fear – I haven’t a clue.
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