The teaser and the teased

Social anxiety is one of the more challenging forms of anxiety to treat. The reason for this is because anxiety is fed by assumptions and some are harder to alter than others. If a person is afraid of a plane crash and manages to get on a flight, he or she will generally learn that the fears they had were unwarranted. In other words, facing fears usually teaches us we really had nothing to fear.

But what if you are afraid of what others think? If you sit in class for a while and then leave, will you learn that nothing bad happened? You could just as easily assume that others judged you negatively. You have no objective evidence to counter your fears.

This is why we tend to focus less on changing behaviour and work more on thoughts and assumptions when treating social anxiety and shyness. One of the things I try to do is have the person imagine him or herself in another person’s shoes. Invariably, we tend to be more understanding of others than we assume they are of us. We also think far less often of others than we think they do of us.

One of the biggest contrasts between how we see others and how others see us can be seen in the phenomenon of teasing. (please note that I am not talking about bullying which is a far more serious issue.) For the most part, teasers think what they do is harmless while the person being teased tends to see it more negatively.

Understanding the other person’s mind helps reduce social anxiety in shy people and makes judgements less threatening. The same process can work from the other perspective by making us more aware of the impact of our teasing.

Here’s what was published in today’s Métro column on the topic:

The teaser and the teased
(Source: Le taquin et le taquiné. Journal Métro, December 03, 2013). Voir plus pas pour la version Française.

Messages sent and messages received are intended to be the same but are often very different. One of the best examples of this fact involves teasing. The intended message of the person doing the teasing is rarely the one received by the person being teased.

The teaser
How many of us tease others. Think about whom you tease and how you do it. What is your intent? If you are like most of us, you usually tease people you like. It is usually meant to bring a person closer.

The teased
How many times do you get teased? I’m sure you sometimes take it well but how many times does it make you uncomfortable? How many times are you made to feel criticized or defective in some way?

I’ll bet you that more often than not, the message received is not the message sent.

There is a line
There is a line somewhere in the world of teasing. On one side of it is the expression of affection, the kind-hearted teasing we do when we like someone and want to break the ice, or point out an interesting quirk, or even criticize something that is a bit of a nuisance but not something that will affect our feelings towards that person. In other words, on this side of the line there is no harm intended.

On the other side of the line is where hurt is found. Here we are being made fun of and told we are not normal, where we are made to feel we are not very well liked.

The reality is that the teaser and the teased are often seeing things from different sides of this line. Teasers tend to see most comments as harmless while the ones being teased tend to see bad intent in these same comments. I think both sides could benefit from moving the line a little closer to the other side.

Putting ourselves in the minds of others will better help us see reality. Teasing comments are rarely taken as harmlessly as they are intended, but they are rarely intended as badly as we take them.


Voici la version Française:

Le taquin et le taquiné

Les messages envoyés et les messages reçus sont censés être les mêmes, mais ils sont souvent perçus différemment. L’un des meilleurs exemples est la taquinerie. Le message envoyé par la personne qui fait la taquinerie est rarement le message reçu par la personne qui est taquinée.

Le taquin
Combien d’entre nous taquinent les autres? Songez à la personne que vous taquinez et à votre façon de le faire. Quelle était votre intention? Comme la plupart d’entre nous, vous taquinez habituellement les personnes que vous aimez bien. La taquinerie vise à se rapprocher des gens.

Le taquiné
À quelle fréquence vous faites-vous taquiner? Parfois, vous le prenez bien, mais combien de fois cela vous a-t-il mis mal à l’aise? Combien de fois vous êtes-vous senti critiqué ou inadéquat?

Je parie que, très souvent, le message reçu ne correspond pas à l’intention du message envoyé.

Il y a une limite
Il y a une limite à ne pas dépasser dans la taquinerie. D’un côté, il y a l’expression de l’affection : la taquinerie faite de bon cœur à quelqu’un que nous aimons bien pour briser la glace, ou souligner une bizarrerie, ou même critiquer quelque chose qui nous dérange un peu. Mais cette intention ne nuira pas aux sentiments que nous portons à cette personne. Autrement dit, en-deçà de cette limite, l’intention n’est pas de faire du mal.

Mais, au-delà de cette limite, le message peut blesser. Quelqu’un rit de nous, nous dit qu’on n’est pas normal, et nous fait sentir que nous ne sommes pas très aimés.

En fait, les points de vue du taquin et du taquiné se situent souvent autour de cette limite. Les taquins ont tendance à considérer la plupart de commentaires comme étant inoffensifs, alors que les taquinés ont tendance à y trouver de mauvaises intentions. Je pense que les taquins comme les taquinés auraient intérêt à se rapprocher un peu plus de l’autre côté de la limite…

Le fait de se mettre à la place de quelqu’un d’autre nous aide à mieux voir la réalité. Les taquineries sont rarement reçues comme étant aussi inoffensives qu’elles n’étaient prévues. Mais elles sont également rarement exprimées dans une intention aussi mauvaise que ce que nous leur prêtons.

Tagged as , , , .

Posted in Anxiety.

Posted on 03 Dec 2013

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


One comment to The teaser and the teased

  1. Owl
    On May 20th 2016 at 17:27

    I was a witness of some playful teasing recently by a person who is kind hearted and often a joker. It was witnessed in front of 13 people. The teasing seemed “over the line”, unnecessary, and critical. He cracked a joke about someone’s age, in front of a large group of people who were attentively listening. Now I am going to be wary. I am going to confront him if he ever dares do that to me.