Gone are the days when humor was essentially considered a sign of insincerity and unprofessional-ism, and humorous individuals were perceived as shallow or undependable. Over the past decades, humor has evolved as an indispensable attribute to success across the length and breadth of human society. It has had a very subtle and smooth transformation from being the laughter inducer to becoming the success inducer.
A humorous individual has a much better chance of making an amazingly positive impact on people they interact with, as compared to a serious individual or one sporting a rock solid poker face. However, to be able to use humor as a tool to carve the path to success, it is also important that you use it right.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when deploying humor as your masterstroke:
Be Humorous, Not Awkward:
This is where most people make mistakes. Humor is supposed to be funny and witty, not awkward. Be careful of what you say. If it is not funny or in worse case, it is offensive or illogical, it would have a strong negative impact on your image.
Don’t Cross The Line:
To put it straight – Don’t overdo it. Know when to stop. Too much of anything is a damper. What may start out as a great session of humor may quickly turn into a disaster. Your audience may become repulsive if you don’t know when and how to close shop.
Be Careful Who You’re Talking To:
It’s important to consider the audience when being humorous. The sort of humor that would work well with people of the same age or position, may be completely inappropriate otherwise. It is also important to respect the personal beliefs and emotions of your audience. For example, if you know that a certain person is very friendly and open, there is a good chance that he/she will respond well to most sorts of humor. However, that may not be the case with a reserved person.
No matter how much you’re itching to let that “women-being-bad-drivers” or “all-men-are-the-same” joke out in front of your audience, don’t do it. It’s disrespectful and not humorous in any sense. This has the potential to do a permanent harm to your image, your personal brand.
You’re the Victim:
This one is more along my personal belief. I believe the best form of humor is when you make yourself the victim, intentionally. For example, if you’re standing in a group and you crack a light joke on yourself, it makes others like you more than if the victim of the joke was someone else. This stems from the fact that when you crack a joke on yourself, you pretend to let the others in on one of your shortcomings, which doesn’t necessarily have to be true though. However, in that moment, you portray slight vulnerability, which is common among humans. Everyone has some vulnerabilities, and that is what makes us humans. This is what connects you with the rest of the group. This is what becomes the common ground for the moment. Remember, no one likes an individual who is full of themselves. A little vulnerability, a little mistake is what would put you across as a more humane and trust-able person. You also generate trust for yourself because you’ve apparently trusted them enough to have let them in on your secret shortcoming. You’ve showed that you trust them, which automatically induces trust for you within them. There are stories of many successful leaders following this mantra.
That said, it is also an art that needs immense practice, perfect timing and elegance, lacking which, it can go horribly wrong, so much so, that you might lose the confidence to ever try it in a professional forum again.
Comment below and share your stories where humor worked well for you or where it totally didn’t work.