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5 Benefits of Having Sarcastic Friends That Annoy You

5 Benefits of Having Sarcastic Friends That Annoy You
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In case you haven’t noticed, the New Year is a time for reflection and introspection, as each of us set new resolutions to change our lives for the better. This type of self-improvement can take many forms, and as an example I spent the first half of January reviewing and installing productivity apps on my iPhone to create a more efficient daily schedule.

While many of us look to make changes in our lives at the beginning of each year, however, it is also possible to seek inspiration in the people and things that surround us. Your friends can be tremendous sources of knowledge and learning, for example, even those who have been known to drive you to very edge of frustration with their sarcastic barbs!

5 Benefits of having friends that annoy you

In fact, having friends who engage in playful, sarcastic can be extremely beneficial, while they can also have a highly positive influence on your life. Here are five of the main advantages interacting with your most sarcastic and mischievous friends!

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1. Sarcastic friends can improve your creativity with sarcasm

While this may sound like a stretch, there is scientific evidence which suggests that associating with annoying and sarcastic people can actually make you more creative. More specifically, laboratory studies have proven that the use of sarcasm triggers direct interaction with others while stimulating the creative segment of the brain, which in turn helps both parties deliver increasingly inventive and cutting exchanges.

So, although it is often described as the lowest form of wit, sarcasm may actually be indicative of the type of exalted creative intelligence that can be used to stimulate others. I therefore try to embrace these barbed exchanges with friends and appreciate the fact that they help to maintain my mental sharpness.

2. Sarcastic friends encourage you to be open-minded

There have been other studies on the impact of sarcasm too, including initial investigations which deemed that sarcasm tends to make even neutral and generic statements sound critical. Given this and the fact that we are more likely to engage with individuals who share a particular viewpoint or respond positively to us as individuals, it is easy to see how we can quickly distance ourselves from even close friends who enjoy nothing more than the occasional, sarcastic exchange.

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Interestingly, studies actually suggest that we are more inclined to find sarcasm more damning that literal statements. This is counterproductive in the extreme, and instead we should consider how easy it is to misinterpret sarcastic statements that may actually have merit or be intended as positive comments. In this respect, interacting with our sarcastic friends (no matter how annoying) can encourage you to become more open-minded and responsive to those around you.

3. Sarcastic friends can make you more ambitious

Did you know that Pablo Picasso was only able to create his defining masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avignon due to an ongoing rivalry with French revolutionary Henri Matisse? Picasso, irked by Matisse’ clear disregard for artistic norms and diametrically opposed personality, was driven to greater heights of attainment purely by annoyance and a desire to best his rival. The two often exchanged pointed barbs throughout their lives, as they continued to clash and use each other to further their careers.

There was a mutual respect between the two, while some experts claim that they also had a friendship during the formative period of their artistic lives. This simply underlines how successful peers and friends who are adroit at delivering sarcastic (but light-hearted) put-downs can serve as an inspiration in life, as we strive to achieve more and create greater ammunition for spontaneous, cutting exchanges in the future.

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4. Sarcastic friends make us better communicators

Being a good communicator is a crucial life-skill to possess, but this is something that you must be able to apply consistently across all walks of life and individual platforms. While it may be easier to communicate with individuals who deliver their ideas in a similar manner to us, the true art of interaction lies in learning to process viewpoints regardless of how they are presented or communicated by others.

This brings us on to another sarcasm study, which revealed that this type of humor can be easily misinterpreted when it is communicated electronically. This study showed that while 73% of respondents were able to successfully distinguish between serious and sarcastic voice messages, for example, just 56% managed to do so when reviewing emails. With this and the rising prominent of electronic communication firmly in mind, it is clear that an appreciation for sarcasm and our mischievous friends makes us far better communicators in the modern age.

5. Sarcastic friends help us to know when to draw the line

There is no doubt that our sarcastic friends can be considered as fun, thanks primarily to their spontaneity and willingness to irk others in the pursuit of comedy. Personally, I have also reveled in instances where my most sarcastic friends have pushed the boundaries too far with individuals who do not know them well, causing them to back-pedal furiously and apologise with increased desperation. This underlines just how negatively sarcasm can be taken out of context, as fun and light-hearted comments are presumed to be cutting insults.

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It also has the added benefit of helping us to learn from the mistakes of others, especially in terms of knowing when to draw the line with good-natured, sarcastic barbs. More specifically, I have learned to restrict my sarcastic comments to people who I understand and know well, while also treading carefully when respecting the boundaries of new friends and colleagues. Research confirms that sarcastic statements are interpreted differently depending on the level of trust that exists within a relationship, and this is a key thing to remember when meeting new people.

Featured photo credit: Gabriel Saldana / Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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