I believe that life is a game, and games are meant to be fun. Teasing, cajoling, and bantering can be great ways to add to the fun – or are they?
Where is that fine-line between fun, and degrading criticism?
It was a warm summer day. A group of friends were playing volleyball on the grass. There were children and adults running, swinging, bumping, and laughing. It was great fun. We were having some great volleys back and forth – quite impressive for a group that don’t play the game regularly.
“Way to go!"
“Cool teamwork, eh?"
“Good try. Hey, you’ll get it next time. "
Another group of visitors arrived, and two of them joined in. These two were vocal, except their words were of a different tone.
“Use those big feet to fly over there, will ya. "
“Serve it to Sally, she always misses. "
“Just aim for Tom’s big nose. "
“Look out. There goes the locomotive. "
These words were said in fun, but the atmosphere changed. Words of encouragement were tainted with remarks that were cutting in nature – not just by these two individuals, it was contagious. Within ten minutes, people were dropping out and wandering elsewhere. Fifteen minutes later, the game was done.
Why? Were participants physically exhausted?
I don’t think so.
Words are very powerful tools. They are similar to dynamite. They are small and seemingly insignificant on their own. However, when put to use, they can create amazing and wonderful things, or destroy wonderful things – depending on how they are used.
Appropriate humour is a beautiful, creative form of word art. It adds spice to life. It encourages us to think creatively, and to look for the “bright side. " It encourages us to look for alternatives and solutions, and to deal with life’s stressors in a positive way.
Humour builds rapport, confidence, and trust. It helps create a bond between people. It is an important ingredient in love.
Inappropriate humour is cutting, demeaning, and degrading. It tears people apart and destroys trust. I don’t believe that this is the intent – to hurt others. It happens out of a lack of awareness.
In First-Aid, there is a procedure to save yourself if you are on-fire – Stop, Drop, & Roll. It makes sense to me that the same process can keep you from being burnt by delivering inappropriate humour.
(Drum roll, please!)
Ladies and Gentleman, presenting: Stop, Drop, & Roll for Appropriate Humour:
1. Become consciously aware of when you are going to deliver words meant to be humorous. Stop in that moment – don’t say it yet. I’m not suggesting that you need to give up spontaneity, but at least pause for a brief moment.
2. Drop the words into your conscious mind and heart. Think, sense, and feel.
- Are the words: positive or negative, enabling or disabling, supportive or manipulative, kind or tactless, respectful or disrespectful?
- How would you feel if these words were said to you, possibly at a time when your self-esteem was low?
- Are they about the person, or the situation? Words about a person may be taken as an attack. Whereas a situation is a chain of events, removed from the person, and often involve a multitude of other people and environmental conditions.
- What is the most appropriate way to say the words to show love and compassion, yet still tickle the funny-bone?
3. Roll with it! Let ‘er rip! Have fun! Use intonation, body language, and energy congruent with your purpose of making the situation light, and having fun in a loving, caring, respectful way.
Will you become a famous stand-up comedian, featured across the nation in every comedy bar? Not likely. However, you will be loved, honoured, and respected wherever you may be, because you love, honour, and respect others.
There are millions of slapdash, unemployed comedians. Don’t allow their numbers to go up by one.
Instead, amplify your business or job by using your appropriate humour. Use it to intensify your relationships wherever you go.
I challenge you to consciously become aware of your fun-intended words, and to practice Stop, Drop, & Roll for Appropriate Humour.
I guarantee that it will become much easier, spontaneous, and satisfying as you learn your own style. Your family, associates, and clients will appreciate you for it too.
Will it improve your effectiveness and productivity?
It works for me, and I know it will do the same for you.
Now, shut this thing off, and go have some fun!
Dan Ohler is Thinkin’ Outside The Barn!
Dan writes and speaks internationally on relationships, happiness, and change. He helps you learn the secrets to create life-long delightful relationships and abounding success.
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