In case you were wondering about the “part deux” in the title, it’s a reference to my earlier post on dudes and humor. You don’t necessarily have to read that article to understand this one, but if you haven’t yet, check it out. You’ll find it interesting.
If you grew up around actual brothers and/or sisters, you are probably well practiced in the art of teasing. Maybe you dished it out, or maybe you had to take it, or both. Although teasing can be malicious, it can also be playful. When it’s playful, it’s a healthy part of a close relationship. (I’m not going to say anything else about malicious teasing, because the point of these articles is to help you make friends, not enemies.)
People are often afraid to tease a friend out of anxiety that it will backfire and be perceived as an insult. As with any other skill, you won’t be able to do it right 100% of the time. That’s why you need to practice on those you have known for years. People you can explain that you didn’t mean what it sounded like. As you might expect, the odds of unintentionally insulting someone go up when you know them less well. That’s why nobody tries to tease a stranger. At least not a complete stranger.
If the whole “think before you speak” philosophy ever applies, it applies to teasing. Fortunately, there are ways you can screen what you want to say before you say it. The key is to get an idea of the other person’s level of self-esteem. Sometimes, when their egos are huge, you will never get much of their attention unless you can prove that you’re at their level or better, and a little teasing can be a good way to accomplish that. For example, if you meet an athletic-looking alpha male at a party, and he already has two or three women hovering around him, you could say something like “So do you owe it all to Hydroxycut?” On the other hand, if you said that to a fat man at the party who was standing in a corner by himself, you would be a complete bastard. The alpha male is so accustomed to being looked up to and fawned over that your joke would seem like a breath of fresh air. You’re just bridging the social gap to gain rapport with him.
The most important thing to remember about good-natured teasing is that it reminds both people involved not to take things too seriously. Keeping things playful is important to preserving your ability to have fun in life. Just remember never to be cruel to anyone, and to leave them in a happier mood that you found them in. The goal is for everyone to be laughing.