For those of you who know me well, you know that I love making people laugh and that my type of humor is often very “animated” (i.e. when I tell jokes I don’t scrimp on facial expressions and gestures) and even when I’m writing, I try to crack jokes or throw punchlines exactly the way I would actually say it. My husband Rick’s sense of humor is what everyone would easily identify as “sarcasm”. Although I know that I am also capable of using sarcasm to be funny, I think mine is more the “highbrow” type of humor because I often start with (hopefully) witty one-liners. Rick describes my sense of humor as being an all-encompassing “laugh-at-life” type of humor, simply because (according to him) I find something funny to say about almost anything. I just checked with my daughter and she agreed, hehe! (Thanks, you guys… That is awfully sweet of you… Huh? What deal? Oh… Later!) :)
However, I’m reminded that even in the spirit of fun, exercising some degree of restraint is necessary. Sometimes even playful banter among friends can quickly deteriorate from friendly fun into hurtful jabs if jokes are perceived as being too insensitive causing people to misinterpret your meaning.
Recently, a fellow Christian friend of mine reminded me of this as we were discussing a recent humorous exchange we had among friends. She told me that during that conversation in which people were taking turns passing jokes back and forth, quite a few “funny contributions” came to mind for her. However, she shared with me that she decided instead not to say anything. When I asked her why she didn’t throw in her funny remarks, she simply – and wisely – said, “Less talk, less mistakes”.
To that, I say “Amen”!
As I contemplated what she said, the wisdom of her statement became more and more overwhelming. If there is any possibility at all that other people might misunderstand your meaning or that your words could be taken in a way other than what you intend to, better to not say it. I thank God for sending me people who constantly remind me of the fact that as a human being, I am certainly bound to make mistakes even when my true intentions are purely innocent in nature. These people end up acting as a kind of “alarm clock” in our lives that God uses to “wake us up”, so to speak. It’s good to be reminded of things like this and even better when we respond correctly to such alarms.
I think we often feel the need to say something funny or smart in conversations with others. It’s natural to feel the need to let our thoughts be heard. However, since the motivation behind trying to be funny is usually to develop or nurture a sense of closeness to others, it stands to reason that when jokes or comments you thought were funny end up hurting or offending others, then it’s counter-productive to the underlying goal. In fact, it’s highly likely that a friendship suffers because of this. Right? Therefore, it really seems to me that in this case, other people’s feelings are far more important than our need to be heard. So although in this scenario, “Less is LESS” (as what my friend said), the truth of the matter is “Less is, in fact, still MORE” – because LESS talk simply means being MORE prudent.
So what do you think? Has it ever been the case when you tried to say something funny only to end up sticking your foot in your mouth?
For more Weekend Reflections, please click here.
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