Sunday, December 14, 2008

Laughing at mistakes

"Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else's can shorten it." - Cullen Hightower

Laughing at our own mistake serves at least two important purposes. First, I believe it can act as self-forgiveness Many times we are way too hard on ourselves for mistakes we have committed. I think laughing is a good way to write them off after we have made an effort to learn from them.

Second, I think laughing at our own mistakes in front of others makes others feel that we too are like them. I have seen good leaders do that with their teams. This helps forge better relationship with everyone you work with. Many times people tend to stay away from leaders thinking that leaders are far superior and may look down upon common people. By laughing at your own mistakes in front of others, people develop a different kind of respect for you.

There is another important use as well. By being the first one to laugh at your own mistakes,you have taken away the ability of others to be the first one to do that. It is much easier to take when we ourselves laugh at our mistakes than when others do that. This is a great neutralizing technique for leader. As a leader, there are always people who want to find faults in everything you do. Since you are a doer, you do end up making mistakes every now and then. At those times, if you are  wound up too tight and fail to admit your mistakes, people are going to criticize you heavily and it may tarnish your image. So, always be the first one to laugh at your own mistakes.

Self-deprecating humor is not bad at all. We just have to be careful that we do not act like and become a joker. That's all. We should only use this when we realize we have made a mistake. We should not use this to deprecate ourselves to win over other people. People are pretty good at spotting phonies. So, do not go on deprecating yourself all the time.

Laughing at someone else's mistakes is totally different. Never do that. Use the time and effort to learn from other people's mistakes. It is the most cost effective way to learn.If you always learn only from your own mistakes, you will learn very little and life is not long enough to do that. Always encourage others to laugh at their own mistakes by setting an example of laughing at your own mistake too. Once laughed at by the person who has committed the mistakes, mistakes are seen in a different light altogether. The focus shifts from mistakes. The spotlight moves to what we can learn from those mistakes. Everyone benefits.


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