Radical Candor Podcast

Funny (Not Funny) — Giving Feedback About Nervous Laughter 5 | 19

On this episode of the Radical Candor podcast, Amy and Jason answer a listener’s question about how to give feedback about nervous laughter. As you may have noticed, we like to laugh on this podcast when we think something is funny. But, did you know that a lot of laughter doesn’t have anything to do with hilarity? In fact, in the absence of an underlying medical condition, laughing is often a stress response — a way for people to regulate their emotions and avoid being overcome with anxiety.

Listen to the episode:

Radical Candor Podcast Episode At a Glance: Nervous Laughter


The Question:

How do I coach people with nervous laughter habits? I evangelize Radical Candor at work heavily, but I struggle with this one. How do I tell people, ‘You laugh too much and too loud and it’s annoying and it’s holding you back in your career?’

I’m guessing the answer will be something similar to that, but as much as I preach, I’m stuck.  I’ve read that people with nervous laughter can get worse the more they think about it. How do you tell someone to ‘stop laughing’? 


Radical Candor Podcast Checklist: Nervous Laughter

Nervous Laughter

  1. Get curious, not furious. Start by asking questions, and when giving feedback, describe the impact of the issue to avoid personalizing it, and offer help.
  2. For the person who has nervous laughter, Psychology Today recommends trying things like deep (or diaphragmatic) breathing; counting; yoga; strenuous exercise regimens or workouts; mindfulness meditation; chanting, or repeating selective musical phrases (a kind of singing meditation); learning about the cues that trigger your pseudo-laughter and more.
  3. Remember, the onus is on the boss to adapt to saying things in the way that it’s easiest for the employee to hear them. Clarity gets measured at the listener’s ear, not at the speaker’s mouth.

Radical Candor Podcast Resources: Nervous Laughter


@drpaulpsychology So you laugh when you’re nervous? #nervouslaugh #psychology #drpaulpsychology ♬ original sound – Paul


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Radical Candor podcastThe Radical Candor Podcast is based on the book Radical Candor: Be A Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott.

Episodes are written and produced by Brandi Neal with script editing by Amy Sandler. The show features Radical Candor co-founders Kim Scott and Jason Rosoff and is hosted by Amy Sandler. Nick Carissimi is our audio engineer.

The Radical Candor Podcast theme music was composed by Cliff Goldmacher. Order his book: The Reason For The Rhymes: Mastering the Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs.


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