Use Effective Humor

when to effectively use humor at workCould the environment in which you work use a little lightening up? Could you use a little lightening up? Try humor. Good leaders often use humor to enhance their leadership effectiveness, particularly when they’re facing a new challenge, dealing with a crisis, or providing some much-needed stress relief. It puts people around you at ease, helps them get perspective, and reveals a less formal, more “human” side to you—all of which can enable more open lines of communication. But be cautious in your use of humor. Avoid overkill and keep it professional and appropriate at all times.

Here are three great ways in which you can effectively use humor:

Giving presentations. Some of the best seminars or talks I’ve ever seen have been peppered with humor for flavor. Done well during the introduction, humorous statements or stories can even set the entire tone for the speech and instantly create engagement. If you’re planning to insert some jokes or funny anecdotes in such a talk, just make sure to practice them in advance, make sure there’s no way they could be offensive, and get some feedback about whether or not they’re really funny. There’s nothing more painful than watching someone open a presentation with a good joke that only he really “gets” or finds funny.

Building rapport. A little humor helps break the ice particularly when you’re meeting someone you don’t know or who is perhaps a bit intimidating. One way to insert a little humor is to have something standard that you always say about yourself upon an introduction. It could be something bold but witty or perhaps something more humbling yet still humorous in nature. Whatever you pick, keep it real. Choose something that aligns with your style and truly reflects your personality—never force anything you say or try to be something you’re not.

Facing adversity. When confronting a tough situation, tactfully inserting a bit of the right kind of humor can be a helpful diversion. It can temporarily force people to shift their focus, release tension through laughter, and gain important perspective on how a situation might not be so dire after all. Doing this might not be easy, but done well, it can also demonstrate confidence in your leadership, revealing that no matter how hard a situation or work in general might be, you’re not going to let that rob you of your sense of humor or understanding of what’s really important in life.

Remember: Humor works wonders. As stated by Cancer Treatment Centers of America®, which uses laughter to help promote overall health and wellness in healing, “Laughter can help you feel better about yourself and the world around you. Laughter can be a natural diversion. When you laugh, no other thought comes to mind. Laughing can also induce physical changes in the body. After laughing for only a few minutes, you may feel better for hours.”

Laughter is perhaps nature’s best medicine—a sort of remedy that you’re always free to use in both your life and your work.

How have you effectively incorporated humor into your professional well-being?

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