Humor:  The Spice of Life (Part 1)

By Leslie Rose Seminars

What would we do without humor? How would we enjoy talks with others if we did not use humor to invite a smile or a laugh? And how would we manage the times when we feel sad and alone?

With humor we lighten up each day, and we find common ground with others. We build healthy relationships with others by knowing what to say and to do that helps, and what hinders, a conversation. Humor often takes us to the edge of uncertainty when we exaggerate, or tease others to make our point. When humor is successful, we build trust and cooperation. We discover that we are not alone, we learn to accept our mistakes, and we look for the good in others and in our selves. Most important, we create common ground.

However, when we lose our sense of humor, we often get critical or defensive, and we blame others or ourselves for what was said, and how it was said.

Humor is an essential skill needed to communicate well with others. A few well chosen words get the attention of others and make a serious point without their getting defensive. Whether we prefer to be the centre of attention or shy and quiet, humor can be adjusted to suit our personality.

The challenge for everyone is to become more aware of how to add humor, and when to avoid it. Too much humor, like too much spice often annoys others. Humor that is perceived as insensitive often leads others to shut down, or become argumentative. But when we each maintain our sense of humor, we look for the good in others and in our selves. To ensure that our humor is welcomed by others, we need to combine our humor with speaking clearly and listening effectively.

Have you ever noticed that successful individuals often use self-depreciating humor to humble themselves, without putting themselves down? These individuals understand that every person has strengths and weaknesses and that self-depreciating humor invites others to feel more confident and equal.

Having humor helps us keep our perspective, stay responsive to others, and resolve differences. Do you already have some things that you say to diffuse tension? Words like “At times like this, my uncle used to say…” can help the conversation to become less confrontational.

And what do you say when you are tempted to disagree with someone? If you can’t think of a humorous comment that will be helpful, you can try looking for clarification by mirroring back their words and clarifying their point. Assume that there is always something that you can find to appreciate when you are looking for common ground. Focus on preventing an argument. Remember, humor is often not the best choice to handle conflict,

Opportunities to add a touch of humor happen all of the time. In December when I visited my friend Tim in the hospital, I came wearing antlers from the dollar store. And when I was accepted into the graduate program at University of Waterloo, I wrote my acceptance letter as a poem. In each situation my small change from the everyday stirred others to smile, and expect positive conversations in the future.

Much of our humor comes from reconnecting to our playful inner child. For many of us, it only takes a playful voice tone, wearing a funny hat, or holding a stuffed toy to get started. Take a risk. Add a bit more humor, and do it in the way that is right for you.

Humor:  The Spice of Life (Part 2)

When we are happy, we are light-hearted. We are open to others and ready to laugh and play. We laugh when we see things presented in unexpected ways. TV sitcoms and comics give us daily reminders of how to twist what we expect to see or hear to make it funny.

When life seems good, the world seems safe. And at these times we find the confidence and the strength to deal with the challenges of everyday living.

Knowing how to add humor to our conversations and to our activities keeps us happy and confident and connected with others. Conflicts and differences of opinions are prevented or managed. Humorous comments help us see a situation realistically.

Organizing fun activities throughout the year keeps us feeling happy and strong. Having a fundraising event, a surprise birthday, a Halloween costume party or a scavenger hunt helps. The key to a successful event is choosing activities that invite individuals to feel comfortable enough to be spontaneous when they interact with others. They need to be noticed and appreciated for their contribution.

Here are some fun things to say to manage a stressful situation.
__1) You are terrific.
__2) Is it my turn to win?
__3) Is it too late to apologize?
__4) You’re younger, you know best.
__5) My mother wants me to stop now.

Here are some fun things to do:
__1) Dance naked in front of your pets.
__2) Get a tattoo.
__3) Eat dessert first.
__4) Make a home made birthday card.
__5) Pop popcorn with the lid off.
__6) Tell stories about great personal successes or embarrassments

Humor is the spice of life. It brings happiness. It decreases pain. It enhances speaking well and listening well.
Humor is the shortest distance between two people.

Humor:  The Spice of Life (Part 3)

Have you ever watched a soap opera on TV? Mainly the characters do selfish and hurtful things, and they suffer. Thousands of people watch these soap operas each day. For some people feeling helpless can seem more appealing than feeling happy

There is a clear alternative. Humor can be added each day to feel happiness, to find common ground with others and find solutions to problems.

Some will smile when they read, “We are all bozos on the bus”.With so many everyday competing demands, it is hard not to feel inadequate some times. We can get stuck in ongoing emotional struggles, even with the ones we love.

Usually when we get very upset we lose our sense of humor. Frequently we are upset about little things, like dirty socks on the floor, the seat left up, and the toilet paper that is rolling over instead of under. Underneath, what is upsetting is feeling helpless and thinking that others don’t care about our needs.

Telling others what we don’t like about them does not help them to change. Criticizing in a critical voice tone often creates resentment, and escalates the problem. One critical moment can undo the goodwill established with many good talks. Improving communication skills will help. Humor makes it easier to communicate well. Little fun moments are like building a relationship one brick at a time.

Here is what businesses have done to improve communication and morale.

  1. Wheeling around a refreshment cart at 3 p.m. on Fridays.
  2. Replacing dress down Fridays with dress up Fridays.
  3. Celebrating birthdays each month with a cake and a get together at lunch.
  4. Giving each person the name of another employee and secretly leaving poems, small gifts or words of appreciation.

Here is what fun-loving people do away from work:

  1. Put up streamers even when there is no special occasion.
  2. Make a family photo collage for the wall.
  3. Make a hanging mobile and hang in the house.
  4. Wear funny hats in public.
  5. Make music out of utensils from the kitchen.

Humorous conversations naturally come when the unexpected replaces your daily routines. Giving each person a chance to shine builds trust and increases creativity. What follows is a warm feeling inside, some smiles or big laughs and the good memories and good feelings last for a long-time.

Leslie Rose has been leading humor seminars for over 25 years.   He presents at conferences and in-house on Humor in the Workplace, Managing Stress, Communicating Effectively and Customer Service. 

For a fun moment, please visit his web site: www.leslieroseseminars.com, or call 416 423 0400