In Elementary and even up to Highschool, we have the tendency to openly laugh at someone’s error. A classmate would verbalize the wrong answer, or perhaps a blooper in delivery, and we almost automatically laugh at him/her. Some would even go as far as pointing fingers, mocking the poor learner. It is here where most of the bashful students refuse to speak his/her opinion(s) and join the discussion. The fear of getting mocked, ridiculed, or teased. All because of this, somehow innocent, reaction towards another person’s mistake.
Teachers of that time found a band aid to this. Almost always, the teacher shush the laughing students then proceed with a lecture: Laugh at your own mistakes. To me at that time, it does make sense. It is a difficult practice to laugh at your own mistakes. Since image is a big matter to kids, laughing at one’s own mistake means admitting a flaw and subjecting one’s self to public ridicule.
Remembering my childhood, I personally believe that I’m not one of those who laugh at people’s mistakes unless the mistake itself is funny (which is rare). I believe mocking someone because of an slip-up is bullying. And since I was bullied occasionally, I refused to bully anyone myself. It just felt wrong. But if I ever laughed, it was the mistake itself that I found funny. Mostly in my mind, I put myself in the person’s situation and find how ridiculous I’d look like committing such error. I believe that’s how my mind worked when I was a kid. So at one point, I got tired of the teacher’s repetitive lecture and thought to myself, “Why not? Laugh at my own mistakes? Why not?”
It wasn’t hard for me to put this into practice. Whenever I recognize my error, I talk to myself (sometimes verbally) and call myself “stupid.” In time, it became a reflex that I laugh at myself whenever I be at fault. To me, it seems a healthy attitude rather than getting upset. The problem is when people are around. In most cases, witnesses find such manner a bad thing. In numerous accounts, I got myself into trouble when I laugh at my own mistakes. If the person beside me wasn’t aware that I made an error, then he/she thinks I’m crazy for laughing by myself. A mentality that I hate but there’s nothing I can do about. And if the person knows that I made a mistake and is offended by it, then I laughed (or even just the slightest smile), that person finds it offensive with the thought that I’m not taking him/her seriously.
Laugh at your own mistakes. My teachers were right. It is quite difficult to do so as a kid. And having such an attitude builds a healthy character, in my opinion. But in most cases, it isn’t a sound advice. To this day, I laugh at my own mistakes especially in public. Perhaps not a laugh, but a smirk, a smile, a snicker, or just one “Ha.” I laugh (or something close to that) especially when someone is around. Letting them know that I’m aware of my mishap, that I need no lecturing. At least that’s how I think of it. But guess what? It still gets me into trouble sometimes. Somehow, some people like to see someone get upset over his/her own mistake. Those people who expect everyone to keep a perfect image… whatever that means. In fact, it was one of the reasons why I had to leave my job before. I believe I was an excellent worker. But one time, I was trying out something new which didn’t work out well. It didn’t cost the company more money than 5 minutes of my paid time. I laughed at myself, shaking my head, and uttered, “Lesson learned.” This offended my superior. To him, it wasn’t that I made a mistake and cost them some money. It was that I wasn’t taking the company seriously with such an attitude. And I suffered for 6 months because of that until I got tired of it and left the company.
Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps they over reacted. Perhaps I was wrong. But again, I say, the teacher’s advice of laughing at one’s own mistake, isn’t really practical. It would shut up some bullies, but I think that’s all it makes.