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Why Humor Is A Skill

        posted by , May 26, 2013

What is it?

Humor as a professional skill is the ability to use humor to achieve desired business outcomes.

You probably use humor in relaxed situations such as with friends and family. Extending this personal skill to professional situations takes bravery.

Humor is fraught with drawbacks & pitfalls. Many professionals play it safe and play down their funny side.

If you decide to use humor at work, it can pay dividends.

Potential Drawbacks & Pitfalls

Humor has a dangerous edge. There are several things that can go wrong in professional situations:

  • Humor that bombs
    Even professional comedians experience a failed joke or two on a regular basis. This isn't a major concern.

  • Self deprecating humor
    Self deprecating humor can be funny. It can also help to show that you're not arrogant — that you can laugh at yourself. The problem with self deprecating humor is that some people may take you seriously. This can be a cultural thing. For example, self deprecating humor is far more common in the United Kingdom than in the United States.

  • Inappropriate jokes
    Most professionals intend to keep jokes appropriate. However, this is always an area of interpretation.

  • Bad timing
    Humor can be interpreted as unprofessional if your timing is off. For example, if you appear to be making light of a critical situation.

Benefits of Humor

Humans aren't business processing robots.

Business is a human activity that reflects the human mind. Most of us are greatly influenced by humor. It has the power to transform our emotions and change our thinking.

There are numerous business applications of a little humor:

  • Building Rapport
    People like funny people.

  • Conflict Resolution
    Disarm stressful situations.

  • Influencing
    Humor is an important tool of persuasion.

  • Stress Management
    The ability to make light of stressful situations can reduce stress.

  • Public Speaking
    Humor is considered a key element of effective public speaking.

  • Negotiation
    Any situations that are likely to be intense can benefit from a little humor.

  • Sales
    Most salespeople use humor as a tool.

  • Interviews
    Humor can be used to show that you're friendly and personable. It can also help you to establish social proof.

Next: Soft Skill Guide

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