Many targets are abused for so long that they simply lose trust in people and withdraw from everyone. And in social situations, many targets mistakenly assume that those they’re with are laughing at them when they’re really laughing with them. And this can cause a rift between the target and a person who’s a mean-meaning friend.
So, how can you tell the difference?
1. Laughing with you: Eye contact. The person is looking at you and interacting with you while laughing.
Laughing at you: Lack of eye contact. The person is looking around at everyone else but you while laughing.
2. Laughing with you: The person doesn’t hold the laughter in. Instead, the laughter happens automatically and spontaneously.
Laughing at you: The laugher usually pauses first. And they don’t laugh out loud but only snicker.
3. Laughing with you: How does the person treat you once the laughter is over? They’re generally good to you and they enjoy being around you.
Laughing at you: The person treats you with contempt and they won’t hang around. They may even make a snide remark to you on their way out to go laugh at you behind your back.
And it depends on context.
4. Laughing with you: The laughter is deep and the person’s natural laugh.
Laughing at you: There’s “mocking laughter”, where the person imitates your laugh. The person isn’t laughing because you’ve done anything wrong or stupid, or because there’s anything wrong with you. They’re laughing at you to bring you down and boost their own social status or to feel better about themselves.
5. Laughing with you: The person generally has good feelings toward you and is having fun or being playful.
Laughing at you: The person has a hostile and hurtful attitude toward you. They’re enjoying your pain, humiliation or weakness.
The sooner you recognize the differences, the sooner you’ll avoid the wrong people and the better relationships you’ll have with the people who truly love and care about you. And ultimately, the better you’ll feel!