Laughing every time someone stops talking is usually a sign of anxiety, but there are many other reasons why you could do it too often. Maybe you do it because you feel nervous, to break the tension, because of daydreaming or because you have difficulty focusing. To stop laughing every time someone speaks, determine the cause of the laughter. To do this, keep a record of how you feel when you do it. Then, use pinching, focused breathing, and physical distractions to stop the laughter caused by anxiety. If you have trouble participating in conversations, practice mindful listening techniques by mimicking the behavior of your interlocutor and asking follow-up questions.
Method 1 of 3: Diagnosing the Source of Laughter
Step 1. Determine if you have anxiety, nervousness, or fear when you laugh
People laugh after others speak for various reasons, and determining why you do so will make it easier for you to stop the behavior. Every time you notice that you laugh a lot, ask yourself how you feel at that moment. If you are nervous or fearful, laughter is probably a subconscious defense mechanism against feelings of anxiety or nervousness.
The best way to avoid the laughter caused by anxiety is to develop coping techniques to make social interactions more comfortable for you. There are many preventive measures and physical tricks that you can try to calm your body
Step 2. Determine if you laugh because you are not actively listening
Many people laugh when they daydream, don't know what to say, or feel something is inappropriately funny. When you find yourself laughing frequently in conversation, take a moment to introspect. If you feel comfortable, relaxed, and have no problem with the conversation itself, you are likely doing it to fill gaps in the conversation or because the interaction doesn't really interest you that much.
If you laugh because you imagine something funny when people talk, you don't know what to say, or you daydream, work on your listening skills and focus on the conversation so you don't laugh
Step 3. Practice laughter control in one-on-one conversations
It is much more difficult to feel comfortable, focus on listening, and control impulses in large crowds or social contexts. To get a better idea of why you laugh so often, stick to private, intimate conversations whenever you can. As you identify your triggers and determine what the problem is, you can work to control your laughter in larger social gatherings.
Focusing on listening when there are many distractions can be difficult. Limiting yourself to one-on-one conversations will help you limit background noise to focus on the interaction
This is very important if your laugh is the product of anxiety or fear. Large crowds and public talk often exacerbate negative feelings when it comes to nerves.
Step 4. See a doctor if you laugh out of control for no reason
If you really can't help but laugh and can't figure out why, see a doctor. Perhaps you have something called emotional lability disorder, which can be treated with medication and therapy. Symptoms include excessive crying, irritability, mood swings, and lack of restraint.
- Seeing a psychiatrist and undergoing psychotherapy can help you deal with the symptoms of this disorder.
- In extreme cases, doctors may prescribe antidepressants to calm your emotional responses and control the symptoms of the disorder.
Method 2 of 3: Stop Laughter Caused by Nerves or Anxiety
Step 1. Slow down your breathing as soon as you start laughing
If you feel like you are about to laugh inappropriately, focus on your breathing. Close your lips and inhale slowly for two to three seconds through your nose. Then breathe out slowly through your lips as you pucker them up. Continue the exercise until you inhale for five seconds and exhale for five seconds. Controlling your breathing will make it harder for you to laugh, while also giving your body something else to focus on.
If you don't want people to watch you do this, crouch down and act like you are tying your shoes or spinning like you're replying to a text message
This is the most efficient way to prevent laughter caused by anxiety. As you slow down your breathing, your heart rate will naturally drop and it becomes easier for you to calm down. Actively pursing your lips will also make it harder for you to make the facial expression you need to laugh.
Step 2. Pinch yourself to redirect your urge to laugh out loud
On an inconspicuous part of your arm or leg, pinch your skin just before you feel like laughing. Pinch yourself hard enough to feel it, but not hard enough to feel extreme pain. The physical sensation will redirect your urge to laugh, and it will be easier for you to keep quiet.
- Pinching yourself is an ideal way not to laugh at serious or inappropriate comments that don't warrant a laugh.
- Instead of pinching yourself, you can bite your lip or curl your toes before leaning forward on them.
Step 3. Put your thumb in your fist and squeeze to distract yourself
If you think you might laugh at the next conversation, put your thumb in the palm of your hand. Then wrap the other four fingers around the thumb to form a fist. Squeeze firmly to distract your body and stop laughing at what happened.
- You can do it with either hand, as it won't make a difference. You can also do it with both, if you prefer.
- This is a trick used to stop the suffocating urge if you feel like you might throw up. Activating the arm muscles tenses the chest at the same time, making it harder for the body to contract while laughing or gagging. This makes it an ideal technique to prevent anxiety laughter.
Step 4. Look away and focus on something else to avoid eye contact
If you laugh frequently during an interaction, take a few seconds to look away behind your interlocutor. Find a tree, bird, or building to inspect and observe it for 10-15 seconds. Focus on the objective you are looking at, instead of looking at your interlocutor, until you feel that you relax and distract yourself. Then, re-enter the conversation after restoring your focus and mood.
This is a great technique for social contexts where other people speak to you. It won't help you much during private conversations, as you will have to respond at some point and you will have to stay focused
Step 5. Play with an object to redirect your anxiety elsewhere
When you're in an awkward social context, play with a pen, coin, or piece of paper to naturally calm yourself down. Rotate the object in your fingers and rub it repeatedly to keep your senses activated. This will give your body a simple action to focus while actively listening to another person, making it harder for you to laugh out loud every time someone stops talking.
- This is not necessarily the best option if you are in a professional context where you are not supposed to play with objects.
- You can also tap your fingers on something if you don't have a random object in your pocket.
Step 6. Think of something boring to distract yourself from laughing
Another way to stop laughing after each comment is to distract your mind with something boring. You can do this by counting sheep, thinking about housework, or reciting a random song in your mind. Any topic will do, as long as it doesn't make you laugh.
This is a great option if you find yourself in a situation where you are only supposed to listen, such as watching a movie or attending a conference
Method 3 of 3: Staying Interested to Avoid Laughter
Step 1. Use verbal hums or say "okay" to show people that you are listening
Some people laugh passively or chuckle as a form of non-verbal communication to indicate their interest or participation in the conversation. If you think this is the case for you, start incorporating different sounds or a simple "okay" after people speak to replace laughter. A basic "mmm" is a simple alternative that does not require talking and allows you to show your interest to people.
- Many people show this laugh to show interest because they feel subconsciously nervous about being excluded from a conversation. This is usually a combination of anxiety and poor listening skills. Incorporate tricks from both methods if you have a problem with both types of laughs.
- If you are looking for a non-verbal option, consciously nod a bit after someone finishes speaking.
Step 2. Pretend you want to memorize what people say as they speak
Another way to stay engaged and avoid laughing when people speak is to memorize what they are saying. When someone starts talking, repeat every word they say in your mind. Imagine each individual word and pretend you want to memorize it to turn it into a game. The more you focus on the words, the more you will participate without the subconscious need to laugh.
This is an ideal trick if you tend to daydream when talking to others. It can also help you avoid laughing at harmless or inappropriate comments
Step 3. Imitate the tone and facial expressions of your interlocutor
Another way to keep your interest and avoid laughter is to imitate the other's behavior. Subtly copy the other person's tone when you respond and focus on their facial expressions to make it easier for you to mimic them. If you smile, smile. If he frowns, do the same. Mimicking the behavior of your interlocutor will make it easier for you to assess when it is appropriate to laugh.
For some people, mimicking the tone and expression of the interlocutor will make things worse if they are prone to laughing at silly things. If this is too difficult for you or you don't think it will help you stop laughing, stop imitating the behavior of your interlocutor.
Step 4. Ask clarifying questions to really engage in conversation
You won't be able to laugh after every comment if you have something to say. When someone talks, think of a follow-up question or interesting comment that you want to share. Put the comment or question in your mind, and wait until the person stops talking before sharing. This will ensure that you maintain your interest, and you won't have time to laugh after someone stops talking.
For example, if someone tells you about their sick dog and says, "The vet thinks Toby will be fine, but I'm not sure," ask "What are you not sure about?" or "Well, I hope Toby gets better. He's a good dog." This way, you will participate instead of watching the conversation
Step 5. Take a break and leave for a few minutes if you need to relax
If you really feel like you really want to laugh and have a hard time concentrating, walk away. Say you need to check your phone or write something and walk away for three or five minutes. Let out the laughter and control your breathing to restart the body before returning to the conversation.
- Stopping laughing overnight will be very difficult. Be consistent and don't be discouraged to break the habit over time.
- Don't try to stop laughing if everyone else laughs. Instead, take the opportunity to get laughter out of the way.
- Rest at least eight hours a night. People tend to laugh more often when they are tired. Also, it will be difficult to control yourself if you are exhausted.