Teasing is an integral part of communication. We do it all the time. It helps up flirt, say things we wouldn’t normally say, and soften the blows of brutal honesty.

As with most things we often get caught up in the surface content of teasing and rarely thing about the deeper intentions or meanings of the jokes. Here’s a breakdown of common forms of teasing, why we do it, and the best ways to react. Warning: Learning this stuff will make you a social badass.

1. The Compliment Tease

We hear that people put each other down to make themselves feel better, but that is not always the case. As with the compliment tease, sometimes we tease others for traits we admire about them or recognize within ourselves. The compliment tease is used to make compliments, or to tease ourselves by teasing another.

When you feel you’ve been teased about an admirable character trait or an accomplishment you’re proud of don’t try to defend it. Instead take is as a compliment and offer advice to the teaser as to how they can find a similar level of achievement. The person is teasing you because they are envious. Don’t get upset.

2. The Truth Tease

Usually directly followed by the phrase “just kidding” or the infamous “what, you can’t take a joke?” The truth tease is a way for the teaser to present honest feelings while both softening the blow and giving them an excuse to back away from their words.

Although a well executed and deep hitting truth tease may inspire you initially to try to punch the teaser in the mouth, a better reaction is to calmly remind the truth teaser that “just kidding” is a rather cowardly phrase to hide behind and if they don’t feel comfortable saying what they have to say without the fake excuse of pretending it’s a joke they might be better of not saying it at all. And if you really want to drive your point home you can follow that up with a “just kidding”.

3. The Test Tease

The test tease is a tool that the socially dominant use when first meeting new members of the opposite sex in social situations. It’s mainly used by girls, but I’ve seen guys use it too. Depending on your personality you’ve no doubt sent or received a truth tease at some point in your life. Here’s how they work…

Within the first minute or so of meeting a member of the opposite sex the dominant male or female will hurl a devastating tease at the other party, usually in front of other people. This test tease is meant to accomplish two goals:

1. See how the test tease recipient reacts to having their ego smashed in order to determine if the other party is strong enough to withstand the teaser’s dominant personality.

2. Send the recipient into a state of damage control in which they try to prove their worth back to the teaser in order to regain respectability within the group, thus reestablishing the teaser’s position of dominance within the group.

The BEST way to handle a test tease from a dominant male or female is to first show no reaction to the tease and then to completely nullify it by playfully explaining to the other members of the group why the dominant person used a test tease and why it will not work on you. This will immediately flip the script and force the once dominant member of the to group to try to reestablish respect by proving their worth to you. Pretty powerful stuff if you can do it right.

4. The Alpha Tease

Though we rarely think about it’s impact today, years before humans picked up plows and started establishing the civilized agrarian societies, we survived for thousands of years as hunter/gatherers. We relied on each other for survival. In those times being exiled from the group meant certain death. Today, our brains are still more or less programmed to think in terms of staying in the group at all costs. This mindset is what allows the alpha tease to be effective.

The alpha tease works a lot like the test tease except that while the test tease is used to test the social strength of potential mates, the alpha tease is a manipulation tactic for dominant members of a group to maintain authority. Here’s how it works…

When the dominant alpha begins to sense another member of the group challenging their authority or position within the social hierarchy, they will issue an insult to the challenging group member that will act as a dividing line. The alpha will then challenge the other members of the group to join their side of the dividing line thus isolating the opposition. The opposition will then be forced to either join in with the alpha reestablishing the alpha’s position as dominant member, or risk exile from the group.

Example: Alpha: What’s wrong? Food too spicy?

Opposition: Yeah, I don’t really like spicy food.

Alpha: Awww, looks like we got someone who can’t handle a little spice.

Alpha (To the group): Can you guys handle spice?

Group: Yes, we love the spice.

In this situation the alpha isolates the opposition by tagging them with a perceived weakness. The alpha also shows his dominance by forcing the other members of the group to either comply or risk isolation and exile.

Like the Test tease, the best way to handle the alpha tease is to explain to the other members of the group what the alpha is trying to accomplish and why it will not work on you. This will show that the alpha has no power over you and force other members of the group to declare that the alpha has no power over them either, thus falling in line with you. Once again, powerful social dynamic stuff.


That’s it, baby. Teasing 101. Now you know the secrets behind teasing and the techniques to disarm any insult. Did you enjoy the Deep Thought of the Week? What are your thoughts teasing? Tell us about it in the comment section at the bottom, and make sure to click the “Like” button to share this deep thought with your friends. To check out last weeks Deep Thought, “Can People Change?” Click Here. And as always, the kiddie pool is nice, but the real fun goes down at the deep end.