How to Respond to Playful Teasing: In An Office, From a Bully & From A Friend

How do you respond when a person playfully teases you? Your reaction to a person’s teasing can mean a lot of things about you and the other person.

First, you have to know the motive of the person teasing you. Knowing the motive should help you find the perfect reaction to it. How you feel about being teased matters. That is true but you have to control it so you don’t overreact.

You have to consider the motive of the teasing, how you feel at the moment, the reaction expected from you, and the possible consequences of your reactions.

Also, the correct response to a playful tease can be determined by your environment.

7 Ways to Respond to Playful Teasing in an Official Environment

How to Respond to Playful Teasing

  1. Ignore
  2. Stay composed
  3. Smile and walk away
  4. Get yourself busy
  5. Ask serious questions
  6. Correct the person
  7. Tell a clean one-liner


Ignoring a playful tease means you have to fully ignore. Most people tend to give the wrong definition to ignoring. Holding back in your reaction does not totally mean you have ignored it.

However, holding back is one of the factors of ignoring. A mistake that is often made is giving a different reaction from the one you would normally give and calling it a way of ignoring.

By ignoring, you are making the teaser seem like he/she is talking alone or to someone else. To fully ignore it, you have to make sure you are not thinking about it.

You have to be completely focused on something else so it becomes impossible for you to give a reaction.

In an official environment, if you believe the tease is inappropriate, you should ignore it and make sure you are not part of it.

If the person is just trying to make you smile, you may want to react and it’s totally fine as long as it is not inappropriate for the office. If it is, you should make your reactions subtle and make sure you are not part of the jokes.

If the person is trying to make you angry, you have to ignore. It is the best option. If the person gets caught doing something wrong, he/she bears the consequences alone. However, getting into a fight with him/her will put both of you in trouble.

Stay Composed

Your composure is important. Some people think they are ignoring but they are not. Your facial expression must not show emotions that relate to what the person is saying.

This is even more important after you know what reaction the person is trying to get from you with the teasing.

You should stay calm. Keep your breath steady. You may be listening to the teasing and it may be having effects on you.

Do not worry about it so you don’t react wrongly. Make sure your facial expression is steady so you don’t seem angry or amused by the jokes.

If the teasing appears inappropriate for your environment, staying composed will make it seem like you are not a part of it.

Whether the jokes are thrown at you or at someone else, you remain professional by keeping your composure.

If you suspect it’s just a joke, staying composed may seem like you have no sense of humor but it’s the right thing if it’s not appropriate.

However, if a person is trying to make you angry, this is just the perfect reaction; no reaction.

Smile and walk away

Again, most people seem to think smiling and walking away is a way of ignoring. It isn’t. It is a reaction that may have meanings attributed to it. However, this does not make it a wrong reaction. It is even better in some cases.

People often do the act of ignoring but it will show that you are affected by something but refusing to react. The person would probably think you are reacting to it behind closed doors.

Choosing to smile and walk away will make you appear mature. You are showing the person that you heard the joke and you know the reaction that is expected of you but you won’t be giving it.

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In an official environment, this reaction exempts you from being part of the joke if you consider it inappropriate. However, smiling shows that you get the joke if it was intended only to make you smile.

If you believe it was meant to make you angry, this shows that you know what the person wants and you won’t be giving it to him/her.

Get yourself busy

Do you find it hard to ignore jokes that are said against you? Do you find it hard to control yourself when you are angry? It does not have to be so hard.

You can only be angered by a person’s speech if you can understand what a person is saying. You also have to hear before you understand.

If you don’t pay attention to what a person is saying to you, you won’t understand the joke and you won’t be reacting.

You have probably heard the joke already and it’s pissing you off. The best way to control yourself Is to take it off your mind completely. If you are finding it hard to take it off your mind, you should get yourself busy.

When you get yourself busy, you won’t be thinking about it and you won’t be reacting to it. Asides from that, acting busy can make it seem like you are ignoring even if it’s running wild in your mind.

The person will think you are too busy to hear him/her and it should end there. If it doesn’t, don’t bother. The person’s still hurt about your refusal to react.

This is the best reaction if you find it inappropriate in your office.

Ask serious questions

If you are not the type that enjoys ignoring hurtful statements, you may want to use this option instead. You should ask serious questions. They have to be important questions to the person teasing you and not to you alone.

When the person is saying his or her jokes and getting people to laugh at you, you can ask if the person is done with the project your boss had assigned to him/her.

You can ask about the deadline of the project he/she is working on. You can ask other important and unrelated questions that make it seem like you are not listening to the jokes.

You should keep your face blank, stay composed, and make sure you are not reacting to the jokes.

When the joke is inappropriate for the environment, this gives the hint. You can ask the person if the boss is in his office. It should remind him/her that the boss will not approve of what he/she is doing.

If the joke was meant to piss you off, this shows that it is not working on you.

Correct the person

This is not the best option for some people. They would rather throw insults back or get into a fight. However, that would only get the both of you in trouble. This option does not only save you from trouble but also reminds the person that the jokes are inappropriate for the office.

When you choose to correct the person, do not act like it is very important for you to correct the person. You should stay composed, act busy or focused on something else, then caution the person while keeping your face free of any expression.

Since you are in an official environment, you can simply tell the person that it is inappropriate for the office. Make sure you’re not frowning or staring fixedly.

If you suspect that the person was trying to get you angry, you can even wear a smile. Just smile at him or her like you are astonished by the jokes, rather than angry, and remind them that the boss may be listening to their silly jokes.

You don’t have to repeat yourself. Your smile or laughter will show that the jokes are failing. However, if it was meant to make you smile, it may still continue.

Tell a clean one-liner joke

When a person tells silly jokes about you, you may be tempted to say silly things back to him or her. You have to consider your environment and who is listening to you before you make comments.

If you are responding to silly jokes in an office, saying similar jokes back may be the worst option you can go for. Your boss could be just around the corner, listening to your silly banters.

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You can use simple one-liner jokes once in a while. That way, you are part of the conversation but you shouldn’t get too deep in it. Smile at the jokes thrown at you and say yours once in a while.

If you don’t think your one-liner jokes are funny enough, it’s better to pick a different option.

If the joke was meant to crack you up, this is a nice reaction. You won’t be appearing like you have no sense of humor.

If it was meant to make you angry, this shows a reaction but laughing at the jokes thrown at you will show that it’s not working.

Make sure you are enjoying the insults as a joke so you don’t satisfy the person with an angry reaction.

9 Ways to Respond to Playful Teasing from a Bully

How to Respond to Playful Teasing

When a bully teases you, you have to know what you are up against before responding. There is a high chance the bully is trying to get you angry or sad. Your reaction would not be helping you in that case. Below is a list of ways to react.

  1. Be as boring as possible
  2. Ignore
  3. Stay confident
  4. Keep your voice steady if you must talk back
  5. Laugh at the jokes
  6. Poke fun at his/her sense of humor
  7. Respond with one-liners
  8. Report to an authoritative figure
  9. Mind your reactions

Be as boring as possible

A bully may be teasing you just to have fun with you. Appearing boring to a bully involves a lot of things. Since the bully wants to get a reaction from you, no reaction is a good idea unless you can get in a fight and beat him/her up.

Any reaction from you will energize a bully to continue with you. While a bully may not enjoy a particular reaction, it is possible that your choice of reaction is exactly what the bully wants to see.

For this reason, showing sadness or anger may only make the bully keep up with his act just to see the reaction again.

You have to completely ignore. Don’t talk back. Don’t stare. Don’t change your breathing. Don’t act like you hear. When a question is asked, you can reply literally or ignore. You should sound as boring as possible if you have to speak. Be literal. Say less or nothing at all.

With time, the bully will find you boring and go after someone else.


It is one thing to appear boring to a person. It is another thing to ignore. Ignoring may seem like the best thing to do for some people but it isn’t always that way.

It could be the worst option if the bully is ready to get in a fight but that depends on which of you would win.

If you ignore, the bully may get aggressive just to get your attention and make you react. While ignoring should have made you appear boring, you may end up getting forced into a fight because of it. However, ignoring is an option.

If the bully is just trying to have fun with your reaction, ignoring will work perfectly. It would even be better if you are stronger than him/her. In that case, the bully wouldn’t want to get in a fight with you so he/she does not get humiliated.

Stay confident

When you ignore, you don’t bother about your facial expression or how you appear to anyone. However, if you find yourself worrying about that, then you are failing to ignore.

Rather, you are refusing to react. If you find yourself unable to take your mind off the teases, stay confident and seem unaffected.

When you are challenged by a bully, keep your head up, wear a wry smile or a carefree facial expression, and keep your chest up.

Do not worry about your breathing. If you do, it becomes harder to breathe correctly. You should not be so self-conscious. If it appears that you are, the bully would know that he/she has succeeded in getting you scared or angry.

Take your mind off it and know that you the bully is just wasting his or her time. If you are going to talk back, you have to keep your confidence too. Whatever you choose to do, stay confident.

Keep your voice steady if you must talk back

When you make it seem like you are ignoring but your voice is breaking while you are talking to others, it would be obvious that the silly remarks are having an effect on you.

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If you try to appear boring, you should not appear scared. Keep your voice steady, keep your whole body looking confident, and stay boring. That does it and your shaky voice can undo the rest.

If you appear confident but your voice breaks, it would show that you are feigning your confidence. It would be even worse if you are talking back and your voice breaks. It would show that you are taking your chances by challenging him/her.

Laugh at the jokes

Since it’s just a playful tease, this should be an easy option. However, it may be impossible to do if the bully is getting physical with you.

No matter how you feel about the jokes, try to find them funny and laugh. You may even support the jokes thrown at you and exaggerate them.

When others start laughing with you, the bully would have lost the purpose of his silly remarks and he would simply move to another person.

Poke fun at his/her sense of humor

If it’s a bully you can take on, there’s no need to run away from a fight. When a bully makes jokes against you, it may be to get you angry. If you show your anger the wrong way, it would only turn out amusing for the bully.

While the people are still laughing at the joke that has been said against you, you can make comments on how funny the jokes are. Make comments about his sense of humor but it’s better to be laughing at the joke too or even responding with jokes.

You don’t have to make your jokes an insult to the bully. It would feel much better if you exaggerate the ones said against you and accept them. That way, it would become more of a joke than an insult to the people listening.

Respond with one-liners

You may want to respond with one-liner jokes but they have to be funnier or just as funny as the ones said against you.

Some bullies can be reluctant to run at you so they use hurtful words instead. If you think you can win the fight or there is an adult nearby, you can provoke the bully into attacking you. A funny one-liner joke should do that.

Report to an authoritative figure

If you don’t want to deal with a bully, you can simply report it to someone who can deal with your oppressor. Report to a teacher or any adult that can handle the situation.

Mind your reaction

Do not show anger. Do not show fear. Do not show that you are holding back. Do not show sadness.

Showing that you are holding back is even worse. It’s like suspense that keeps the bully glued to the situation as he/she wonders what you would do next.

7 Ways to Respond to Playful Teasing from a Friend

How to Respond to Playful Teasing

  1. Laugh about it
  2. Show a middle finger
  3. Respond with a joke.
  4. Agree and exaggerate
  5. Make a funny but untrue accusation
  6. Tell him/her to stop
  7. Admit you don’t have a comeback

Laugh about it

If your friend teases you, there is a high chance that he/she is only trying to make a joke so you should not take it personally. However, if you don’t like the joke, this would be a bad option since it may keep him/her going with the insults.

If he/she is reacting to something you have done and trying to hurt you with silly remarks, you can ignore it so you don’t worsen the situation.

Show a middle finger

If your friend is teasing you and you suspect it to be a mere joke, you can respond with a silly gesture like the middle finger. This shows that the person is being silly but you are cool with it.

Respond with a joke

Since your friend is telling jokes, you can respond with another joke similar to the one said against you.

If he/she can throw insults at you, he/she should be able to take them from you too.

Agree and exaggerate

When your friend teases you with false insults, you can make it funnier by agreeing and exaggerating it.

For example, your friend may joke about you having a small wienie. You can admit it in front of everyone. You could even point to a girl and ask if she’s ever seen anything like it (It’s so small my pee always gushes out from the sides. You really need to see it. I’ll show you).

Make a funny but untrue accusation

After admitting and exaggerating the insult said against you, you can make a similar accusation against your friend. You may also make the accusation without admitting anything.

(Forget that, Jane. Let’s talk about why you stuff your bras with foam when coming to school. It’s not like nipples are a bad thing, I mean)

Tell him/her to stop

You can simply tell your friend to stop the silly jokes if you don’t like them. You should probably give your reason so you don’t seem like you are oversensitive or without a sense of humor.

Admit you don’t have a comeback

The best way to reply to such jokes from your friend is with a comeback. Those insults will not be taken seriously. However, if you don’t have a comeback, you can laugh at the joke and admit you have no response.

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