Do you giggle a lot?
December 6, 2017

A few months ago a guest had been confused about what time we were recording an interview. I don’t know if it was his fault or that of his publicist, but I knew it wasn’t mine. That’s one reason I was so matter-of-fact when it came to rescheduling. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong.

Wrong. According to him. When I was giving him the new time I quoted not only the Pacific zone, where he is -- but the Central, where we are. He didn’t need to hear the “Central” part, he snapped. “Yeah?” I thought to myself. “Well, I’m just as thrown by the change in plans as you appear to be, and considering the circumstances I think confirming the time on both ends is justifiable.”

I thought that. I didn’t say it. And later, when it sunk in I’d been scolded, I told his publicist I’d decided to pass on this one after all. I was sure it didn’t bode well. His publicist asked me to reconsider because the guy’s brilliant. He promised I’d learn a lot.

Fine.

You can guess what happened. I was so thankful for the opportunity to get to know this person! He’s coached more famous people than would fit in an entire ballroom, and after we finished recording he asked me some pointed questions about my work. I answered every one of them with confidence, and we had a wonderful conversation.

We even talked about the awkwardness on our first chat. He shared with me something he’s noticed about underachievers. “They use too many words,” he said, “and they giggle a lot.”

Of course I’d just laughed, hard, at something he’d said -- so I was horrified. No, he reassured me. I was laughing out of understanding. I resisted the urge to let out a little chuckle of relief.

I’d never heard the suggestion, as Katie would say, to “put the extra words away.” (Well, I guess I’ve heard it once! But she wasn’t talking to me.) I’d also never heard the suggestion to giggle less. I realized how often I laugh as a way of putting people at ease. It’s a social lubricant. But it can backfire. People don’t take you seriously if you laugh at things that aren’t funny.

I’m using fewer words these days, which means I’m listening more. Nothing problematic about that! I still fill an awkward silence with a chuckle here and there, but one of these days? I’ll be okay with letting silence speak for itself.