Defensive laughter

What Kant said: What causes laughter is the sudden transformation of a tense expectation into nothing.

– Dept. Of Speculation, Jenny Offill

One of the most common defensive mechanisms I see when working with groups is the laughter. When people are presented with something that makes them uncomfortable or unsure of how to handle it is so easy to start laughing at it. To make it into a joke so that if you try and look foolish then you were in on the joke from the start.

Other common defensive mechanisms that you might recognize in yourself or others are:
– Talking faster
– Short of breath
– Suddenly becoming “stupid” and not understandind what is being said
– Getting tired
– Trying to over analyze what is being said so you don’t have to act on it
– Walking away
– Trying to change the subject
– Being overly positive about the situation
– Being overly negative about the situation
– …
– …
– …

One part of the Radical Collaboration course that I facilitate is to try to identify your defensive mechanisms. The reason for this is not to find a new thing to be annoyed with yourself about, but to find a warning signal so that when you notice that you are doing one of your defensive mechanisms you can realize that you are stressed or defensive and then try to do something about it.