A ‘faux pas’ (from French meaning ‘false step’) is usually an accidental, or unintentional, breach of socially accepted norms, manners or etiquette. Naturally, communicating with tact and diplomacy means avoiding false steps.
As a faux pas is unintentional – a mistake or blunder, not a deliberate act of rudeness – it is often considered amusing, especially to an observer, although can be very embarrassing for the person or people involved.
For these reasons faux pas are used frequently in comedy – especially in sit-coms. Such situations can make the audience cringe, empathize with and ultimately laugh at the characters being portrayed. The more in tune you are with the rules of etiquette the more likely you are to react to the embarrassment caused to others in such situations. Conversely, if you lack knowledge or experience of socially acceptable behaviour you are less likely to get the joke. This can be particularly true across different cultures or demographics and is why comedy does not always translate or travel well.
The relationship between comedy and faux pas helps to demonstrate the importance many people put on acceptable social interactions, in a wide variety of settings. Most times people accurately determine what is tactless and what is merely a slip-up. If you commit a faux pas and you realize the other party is sensitive to the remark, and does not find it amusing, you should apologize immediately you are aware you have blundered. But since it was an accidental offense there is no need to overdo the apology.
Humour, used wisely, is a great device for relaxing emotion in relationships.
Read any on-line dating service and you’ll see that women expect men to have a good sense of humour. I doubt men ask for the same in women. (I wonder how many men go without dates because they lack a good sense of humour, or the right kind of humour.)
Curiously, humour has to do with the brain/mind being ‘surprised’ by what just happened. The brain processes information constantly and compares it with already known things in order to evaluate and act accordingly. Consequently the mind anticipates outcomes when the patterns become evident. Then comes the punch-line, the unexpected event, the surprising break in the pattern. When synapses are tickled, the mind laughs.
It also appears sense of humour is correlated with intelligence – fast processing synapses. The more sophisticated