Tips for Using Humour in Business

In this era of abundant social media it seems that the line between what is appropriate and inappropriate to share or say is getting more blurred each moment.

Now, I like a laugh and a joke as much as the next person, but what I find constantly astounding is the lack of attention people pay to their use of humour in the business arena, and also in the personal arena, when they are the face of their business.Using Humour in Business

So here are my ‘quick and dirty’ rules for using humour in business (and life)!:

  1. If you are going to feel the need to apologise for something immediately after doing it then DON’T DO IT IN THE FIRST PLACE I hear so many people say they ‘don’t have a filter’ and they use this excuse to somehow give some sort of dispensation for what was said.  This only demonstrates a lack of forethought, in my opinion, and it is becoming very tiring. We all suffer from ‘foot in mouth’ every now and then but the reality is that if you aren’t capable of being considered about what you say you need to start learning this skill IMMEDIATELY – but only if you want to be successful in business and in life;
  2. Business is not an environment for clowns unless you are running a circus. People who play the fool and see themselves as funny usually aren’t because their humour is usually offending someone. They seem to think it is engaging and sadly it isn’t after the first 5 minutes. Clients don’t take too kindly to being offended in my experience. So if you are inclined to play the fool….. STOP IT IMMEDIATELY – but only if you want to be successful in business and in life;
  3. Humour is open for interpretation so if we are going to be light-hearted we need to choose our topic and timing very wisely.  Business relationships are severed far more easily than personal ones (although if you intend on having long term healthy personal relationships I believe these tips apply to any interactions you have), so don’t give your clients a reason to look . Refrain from the ‘inappropriate’ and be sensitive to and aware of what is going on for them so that you can choose when to be relaxed and informal.  My rule is: if you aren’t prepared to say it in front of your mother or a judge in court DON’T SAY IT at all – but only if you want to be successful in business and in life;
  4. Humour is used to draw attention to the person using it so be VERY, VERY (yes I know that capitals are shouting language) careful because in business we all know that the focus needs to remain on the client. If you feel the need to use humour to draw attention to yourself, go and sort this out with a coach or qualified psychologist, there is no room for childish attention seeking behaviour in business, but only if you want to be successful!
  5. Reputation is important in business!  Investing in your reputation is a valuable exercise, having a good reputation will draw people to you and having a bad one will repel people. I would go out of my way to NOT buy from someone who I found offensive even if it meant going overseas and paying more. So treat your reputation like a precious child, but only if you want to be successful in business.

So that’s my soapbox session for today….

Let me know your thoughts!

Helen

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