Seven Ways to Use Humor in Business

Business is a very serious matter, so serious; in fact, that a large dose of humor is essential to handle it. Viewing the opinions of many business gurus on this matter, there is an almost unanimous approval in using humor. Despite this, few know how to apply humor effectively.
In using humor, there are several caveats to remember to make it more effective. You should not tell green jokes unless you are sure that your audience will not be offended. Telling green jokes may do more harm than good. Also, do not make fun of anyone. While it may be a sign of humility if you poke fun at yourself, making fun of others will make you many enemies.
You must also make your humor relevant. If you tell jokes for its own sake too frequently, you may get the reputation of being a clown. You can avoid this by having an objective in being humorous. To do well you need to have a sense of timing too. Few things are as embarrassing as a joke that falls flat. If you find it hard to crack jokes, a more effective approach would be to tell humorous stories instead.
Humor is one of the most potent but frequently overlooked tools in the manager’s repertoire. You may think you already know all benefits it can bring, but the advantages are more plentiful than is apparent at first sight, as you will see:
1. The ability to laugh at your mistakes improves your decision-making. If you are able to laugh at your mistakes, you become less fearful of trying bold ideas. Not only that, but it also encourages subordinates to inform you if they think there is a flaw in your thinking. This will reduce the chances of overlooking a blunder.
2. Laughter reduces stress. There is an abundance of stressors in work setting. There are deadlines to meet, irate customers, unreliable suppliers and a multitude of other things that causes strain. A little laughter makes the workplace less tense and relieves the tension.
3. Humor improves your presentations. It is virtually mandatory to inject some humor into a presentation. Very few types of presentation would not benefit from a break in monotony or a rest from data overload. A presentation made livelier by humor is more likely to heard rather than ignored or slept through.
4. It creates better rapport and trust. There is a certain type of humor that is especially effective in establishing rapport and trust. This is the self-deprecating humor where you focus on your flaws. People find the speaker humble and often they see themselves in the same situation suffering from the same weakness. You can quickly get people in your side. This creates more sympathy for your objectives rather than just the obvious attempts to sway them. Despite the effectivity of self-deprecating humor there cases where it would aggravate the situation. If people already have a low regard for you then using this type of humor may only serve to strengthen their belief!
5. Humor makes it easier to think outside the box. When you are looking for a new idea or brain storming it would be very useful to have a sense of humor. In most situations, people tend to suggest conventional ideas to avoid being seen as lacking logic. Humor allows you to propose ideas that are wacky but may later turn out to be the best solution. There is less fear of making a seemingly illogical suggestion as it may be passed off as just a joke. Humor is a great ego saver!
6. Humor makes it easier to remember an idea. It is easy to forget something if it is just in a plain statement. However, if the lesson was incorporated in a funny story then it would almost certainly be remembered. For example, you can narrate a funny thing that happened when you forgot to follow a certain rule. The story and the lesson it illustrates would be almost impossible to forget.
7. It makes a message viral. Viral means spreading like a virus. When you are promoting something to the public, it is more likely to spread by word of mouth if the advertisement has a humorous element that would be exciting to talk about. Since advertising in the mass media is extremely expensive, most marketing managers strive to make their promotional efforts viral to save on money and to maximize their exposure especially in the social media.
The importance of humor in business has rarely been recognized formally but its daily impact in the workplace cannot be underestimated. Managers and entrepreneurs would be well advised to explore the many ways humor can be utilized. In this case, what is funny is not frivolous as its contribution to business is definitely serious.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. D-4, Sunday, August 11, 2013. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.