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Communication Skills - the Misuse of Humour At Work

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Posted 19 January 2012 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with your Persuasive Communication skills training.

Communication skills: The misuse of humour at work

Beware of the misuse of humour:

When you THINK you are coming across to everyone as Witty" when you are ACTUALLY coming across as a "clown".

Laugh WITH people not AT them

If you are anything like me, you were taught, at a very early age, four things relating to laughter:

  1. People like others who can make them laugh.
  2. That you should not take yourself too seriously.
  3. That you should be able to laugh at yourself.
  4. Laughter is the best medicine.

All of which is true .......
But not always!

Laughter can be good

I took the above advice as "sage- truth" and acted upon it, in good faith.

And I figured that if it is true that

I should not take myself too seriously, that I should be able to laugh at MYSELF,
Then surely, you should not take yourself too seriously and you should be able to laugh at yourself if I take the mickey out of you, in public.
As a result I used to "make people laugh" by making jokes at the other persons expense.
I made jokes at the others expense.

Particularly at the expense of my ex-wife, Maureen.
I would take Maureen out on a date: Dinner at a local restaurant. She would be dressed up nicely.
New dress. New hair, made up nicely.

But on arrival at the venue, I halted at the door and turned to Maureen and said:
"Oh dear; Maureen you're not allowed into this restaurant."

Maureen said "Why ever not?"
I said "Look at the sign on the door: it says "No Dogs"!"

Maureen's face went pale, and then she walked away.
I called after her
"What's the matter with you? I was only joking! Can't you take a joke?
What's wrong with you?"

I have learned a lot since then

I have learned that joking can easily go wrong and that if it misused, then Humour can be a source of serious trouble.

How can the misuse of humour cause trouble?

Humour can back fire because if you misuse humour, it can:

  1. Cause resentment
  2. Be taken as an insult.
  3. It may be seen as a form of verbal bullying
  4. It may reduce the other person's motivation and self-confidence.

DON'T Laugh AT people.

Equally, Don't laugh at yourself

  • Don't be too quick to make yourself the butt of jokes.
  • Don't make yourself "the clown".
  • Don't make yourself "the fool",
  • "The joker"
  • "The court jester".
  • "The village idiot".

A world of difference

There is a world of difference between being seen as "witty, amusing and with a good sense of humour", and being seen as: "an idiotic, clown who thinks he is being funny, but is really, being stupid".

The danger is that you THINK you are coming across to everyone as "Witty and charming";
When ACTUALLY, you are coming across as "an idiotic clown".
And nobody follows a clown into battle.

Remember this

Whatever you laugh at loses power.

Whomever you laugh at loses power.

  1. Don't laugh at your kids
  2. Don't laugh at your wife (or husband).
  3. Don't laugh at your work colleagues.
  4. Don't laugh at your boss he- she may not think it is so funny.

Instead: Laugh at your enemies

  1. Laugh at your setbacks
  2. Laugh at your problems
  3. Laugh at evil

Whatever you laugh at loses its power

Final point

If you ever hear yourself say "What's wrong with you? I was only joking"
Then recognise it is YOU who has messed up.
Don't laugh AT others.

They may not think it is so funny.

For more information about communication skills training visit the Corporate Coach Group website

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