Boss Lady

How using humor can improve the success of your business and client interactions


“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”  -Dwight D. Eisenhower

When you think of business, of your business, or businesses you interact with, do you immediately think of humor being an essential strategy? Probably not. However, you might like to look at a different possibility.

My friend’s father, who was a very successful man with an extremely responsible, often difficult job, was a serious, reserved man and people sometimes wondered what the secret of his success was. Underneath that seriousness, though, lurked a gentle, quiet humor. Whenever there was a difficult or awkward situation, he’d maintain his cool, yet was always willing to say something subtle and funny. Sometimes it was self-deprecating, but always it was something inclusive and gentle, that diffused and improved the situation.

It doesn’t have to be a total comedy show of jokes. Sometimes gentle and quiet humor carries the most impact and inspiration.

When an employment application asks who is to be notified in case of emergency, I always write, “A very good doctor.”

Here are some of the benefits of adding humor to your business or workplace:

  1. Humor can break the tension in any business (or personal) interaction. Add a little gentle humor the next time a meeting gets tense or confrontational, and you will melt that stress away. Even if you laugh for only a few seconds, a funny remark can calm the atmosphere and clear the air. Humor can make molehills out of mountains.

Q: Why did the can crusher quit his job?
A: Because it was soda pressing.

  1. Humor and joy have the ability to get you out of thinking or over-thinking, and into being more present. It enhances spontaneity and your capacity to respond quickly in any situation. It can work as a key ingredient in creative process. It’s difficult to be judgmental when you’re laughing, so you can get out of ‘right and wrong’ and into creation.

“People who use humor in the workplace are more productive, less stressed, and happier.” -Andrew Tarvin, author of Humor that Works.

Why did the employee get fired from the calendar factory? He took a day off.

  1. Humor leads to greater productivity. Humor can create an upbeat atmosphere that encourages interaction, creativity and brainstorming of new ideas with less feeling of risk. It can make us more effective at finding quicker and better solutions to problems we have to solve. All of that creates happier employees, partners, and clients.

As Richard Branson says, ‘Happy employees equal happy customers.’

Employees all over wish to be taken seriously, with the hopes of being noticed for that promotion, or attracting more or bigger clients. Michael Kerr, author of The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses are Laughing all the Way to the Bank ( points out, “Yet, this can backfire as people who take themselves overly seriously are often, ironically, taken less seriously by the people around them.”

Being an astronaut is strange, as it’s the only job where you get fired before you start work.

  1. A sense of humor makes it easier to work with groups of different people – different backgrounds, languages, work ethics, temperaments, cultures – humor can cut through it all. It can reduce the social distance (perceived or real) between people. You choosing to be vulnerable and even laughing at yourself can be very disarming and will create more trust. It creates the space where people will go out of their comfort zones and have their voice and then they can go beyond their roles and create! Humor can also make you more approachable and more, in an expression I like to use, “user friendly.”

I refused to believe my road worker father was stealing from his job, but when I got home, all the signs were there.

Always use your common sense, intuition, and ask a question to yourself like, “what would work here?” When someone is really being serious, cracking a joke might not be the wisest or best thing to do…at that particular moment. However, if you have that lightness in your world and can see the humor in it – you don’t necessarily have to say anything – just be the energy of ‘nothing is a big deal.’ Asking a question to yourself along the lines of, ‘oh, I wonder what else is possible?’ or say to yourself ‘what’s funny about this that I’m not getting?’ might be all that’s needed at that particular time.

And finally, even if you think you don’t have a sense of humor, or consider yourself introverted, and “I could NEVER do that” … You CAN walk into your job or situation choosing lightness and ease for yourself, which is infectious. When I see tension and stress and competitiveness in my design shop, sometimes I just enter, do a joyful dance step…and leave.

About Eena Basur

Eena Basur is a communications expert, business owner, and best-selling author. She is an international speaker and has been involved in the creation and scaling up of many businesses and products in a range of industries, with clients worldwide. She co-founded The Earth Home with her partner, Adreesh Chakraborty, and brings 20 years of communication and brand design and strategy

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