Thoughts On Self-Deprecating Humor

One social area people can feel uncertain about is poking fun at themselves. For one, they're not sure if it's okay to do at all. It seems like that style of humor could be humble, disarming, and entertaining, but they've gotten messages it can come across as weak and insecure. You'll hear advice like, "Never make fun of yourself. It's better to playfully tease other people instead."

I'll address that question right now: It's not always bad to use self-deprecating humor. It has a time and place. Unless you're hanging out with ultra-competitive, cutthroat people who take themselves very, very seriously and won't accept any potential sign of weakness, it's not automatically a faux pas.

However, there are definitely moments where it will work against you and not come across that well. That's the second way people struggle with it. They know it's alright in some contexts, but aren't sure exactly how to work with it. Here are my thoughts:

Potential benefits of self-deprecating humor

If you can pull it off properly, here are some of the good things that can come from poking fun at yourself:

Potential drawbacks of self-deprecating humor

If you make fun of yourself in a clumsy way or in the wrong setting it can backfire...

When it's generally okay to use self-deprecating humor

These aren't the only places you can poke fun at yourself, but it's where this kind of humor is most likely to go over well:

When it's not the best move to use self-deprecating humor

You may still be able to pull off this kind of humor in these situations, but the odds aren't as in your favor.

Some tips for using self-deprecating humor skillfully

Aside from the context, it's often how you poke fun at yourself that determines whether it works or not. Here are some general guidelines: