It’s not too often that you’ll run across a humor section in a leadership book. It’s an understated integral tool to be used in your personal and professional life. There is a balance though. Use it well and you’ll have an easier path in your journey. Use it too much and you’ll be labeled a joker who doesn’t take responsibilities seriously. Don’t use it at all and you’ll come come across as hard and uninviting.
Humor can be a positive influence on those around you. It can make people feel like they belong or can relate better. It can even balance a negative situation.
I enjoy storytelling and sometimes exaggerating a point to emphasize it. I also use self humor. Sharing funny and embarrassing things that happen to you, your flaws and mistakes you’ve made, humanizes and endears people to you. Sometimes people don’t do this because they want people to respect them. That may be true if it’s overdone, but a balance with seriousness goes a long way.
I also make a point to stay away from political, sexist, ethnic or cultures humor. It adds no value and the least amount of damage it does is potentially make a situation awkward. At worst, it alienates a colleague or friend. Don’t use humor to deliver a critical point. I’ve made this mistake before and it stands as one of my shining moments of leadership regrets.
Stay away from humor that makes fun of others, makes others feel bad or is at the expense of others. This is the most difficult, because it’s usually just something that pops in our mind in the moment and we blurt it out. This is an area I see where we have the biggest opportunity for improvement.
Humor can be found all over the place; In your drive to work, in the mundane things in life, ridiculous situations you find yourself in and universal things that happen to people. Be sure to note those moments! Humor that unites people is always a golden ticket to a good laugh and fun with friends and peers.
Make a funnier tomorrow.