How to Keep a Straight Face

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A nightmare social scenario occurs when you can't keep a straight face during a serious conversation. Learn one of several different ways to regain your composure when unexpected and embarrassing laughter strikes at the wrong time.

  • Keep your mouth closed. Clench your jaws and press your lips together to stop laughing. Lightly bite the inside of your cheek.

  • Thrust your hands into your pockets. Dig the nails of your thumbs into the palms of your hands.

  • Exhale all of the air from your lungs. Hold your breath. If that doesn't work, concentrate on breathing deeply through your nose.

  • Think of something sad or upsetting. Recall an incident from your past that made you cry or feel embarrassed. Remember yesterday's most depressing news story. Consider how the people you are talking to will feel if you begin laughing at an inappropriate time.

  • Distract your thoughts with a complicated mental challenge. Try to solve a difficult puzzle or math problem in your head. Silently recite the alphabet backwards. Imagine yourself doing something complex with several different steps.

  • Pretend to cough or sneeze if you cannot suppress the laughter. Cover your mouth with your hand. You now have a plausible excuse to retreat to the restroom to wash your hands and regain your composure.

  • Give in to the laughter and get it over with. Admit that you have had one of those out of control moments. Acknowledge and apologize for your behavior.

  • Recognize that people are not always in complete control over their emotions, especially during a stressful time. Our reactions are controlled by unconscious mechanisms that sometimes override our good intentions. Forgive yourself and move on.

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