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Management Training Skills - a Good Sense of Humour

A good sense of humour

A good sense of humour is important.
You have heard that it is good to laugh.
That you should not take yourself too seriously and that you should be able to laugh at yourself.
Yet surprisingly, the ability to laugh is NOT a universal good.

As a leader manger you need to be able to discriminate between the proper and the improper uses of humour.

It is true that your good humour is an important attribute.
It is one of your assets.

Let us give it some thought and discriminate between the proper and the improper uses of humour.

Humour can be constructive
Humour can be destructive

The general principle to remember is this:

"Whatever you laugh at loses power"
"Whoever you laugh at loses power"

So, laugh at Evil.
Laugh at setbacks.
Laugh at your worries.
Laugh at your problems.

DON'T LAUGH at your children, partner, business associates or colleagues.

Humour at the other person's expense can be damaging to your own best interests.

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Bad uses of humour

I want to suggest that "Humour at the other person's expense" might be damaging to your own best interests.
Be wary of laughing AT your colleagues.

For example: Sarcastic humour at a colleague's expense may create tension.

"I see you were on time this morning. Did you wet the bed?"

Some poor humour might be problematic.

"Steve is now so fat, last week he dived in the pool and the water dived out!" is likely to annoy Steve, even if the others do laugh.
"Sam has been blown out more times than my granny's candle" is likely to cause offence to Sam. Even if he does laugh along, what is he thinking of you, the joker?

You should keep clear of humour that may be taken as racial: Trust the Irishman to do it wrong!

You should think carefully about humour that might to cause resentment because bad humour might cost you dearly.

You goal should be to command respect.

Poor communication skills will cause you to lose the respect of others.
Poor humour could make to seem crass rather than witty.

Remember

Laughter diminishes its object:
"Whatever you laugh at loses power"
DON'T laugh AT your colleagues.
They might not think it as funny.

The Good uses of humour

But you should use humour to your advantage.

You can use humour to:

  • Break the ice in tough situations.
  • Raise the spirits after a defeat
  • Make light of a problem
  • Make a fear situation less threatening
  • Or simply to have some fun
  • Create a light atmosphere in the office.

I am often asked

When we discuss this on management courses, delegates often ask me:
"Should I make myself the subject of the laughter?
Should I laugh at myself?

My answer is:
"Do NOT strive to be the joker and the boss.
It does not work very well.

"Have a great sense of humour and laugh often.
But do not set yourself up as the joker in the pack.

Laugh WITH the others.
Remember that the court jester is NOT the same person as KING (or QUEEN).
Nobody will follow a clown into battle.
So: Be Witty, but do not act the fool.

Another common question is:

"Should I encourage laughter at work?"

My answer usually is:
"It depends what kind and how much.
If the laughter amounts to bullying- then you must step in early and defuse the situation.

Also- if there is too much laughing and messing around, - only a little productive work will be done.
Laughter should add value - not steal from it.

Summary

As a leader manger you need to be able to discriminate between the proper and the improper uses of humour.

Humour can be destructive:

"Whatever you laugh at loses power"
Be wary of laughing AT colleagues.

Humour can be constructive

So you can use humour to your advantage.
You can use humour and laughter to Raise the spirits after a defeat or make light of a problem
Be humorous but do not act the fool.

Your Comments

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