Written by: Eric M. Hammer
Originally written at TheEricHammer.com.
Look at all those people. They're so happy and jubilant, laughing together, having a grand ol' time. What a bunch of fools.
It’s time I put an end to my own self-induced nonsense. It’s my fault that I work an office job in close quarters with my coworkers. It’s on me that the people with whom I communicate with inside those four walls feel so comfortable slinging around jokes without hesitation. Hand up on those. For whatever reason, I feel this weird obligation to laugh when someone at work tells a joke. It could be unfunny, and it often is. Yet I sit there like the cube monkey I am, obeying orders, crunching numbers, and pandering to my coworkers.
There wasn’t any one moment that woke me up. But thanks to my huge brain and social awareness proficiency, it became clear as day that I’m nothing more than a puppet. Without any rhyme or reason, I’m too often placating my teammates in the form of cheap laughter. Someone tries to break the tension with a quip, and we all laugh. I laugh. And then I realize I didn’t want to laugh. And now they think that I think that their joke was funny and that they’re funny.
Sometimes they make me laugh. Sometimes I think they are funny in specific instances. But most of the time it’s reactionary, and I’m putting an end to it. To laugh for the sake of laughing? Nope. I’m done with it. If it’s not funny, that person deserves to know the joke didn’t land. I’m doing them a favor. And if I’m ostracizing myself by being the only stern-faced member in the group, so be it.
I’m here to tell you that you should not feel obligated to laugh at a coworker’s joke. If it’s not funny, they need to know. It should be a learning experience. Either they’ll realize something they said was off and will work on their material, or they’ll ignore it for the time being and continue to attempt to impress through weak comedy. Eventually they’ll get the hint. Or you’ll get the boot. But it’s for the best regardless.