How To Use Humor Successfully In Your Business Communications

For generations people have been saying that laughter is good medicine. And now the scientists have taken an interest it turns out great-grandma was right. The boffins have discovered that laughter releases helpful goodies in the body which boost your immune system. In fact the therapeutic benefits of laughter are now being harnessed by academia and the business community into laughter workshops and other formalized chuckle sessions. Get the workers laughing and you raise productivity, so it seems.

However it is extremely easy to get humor wrong. And a joke that’s sent to someone who doesn’t see the funny side will create more ill health through raised blood pressure than a few laughs could ever cure.

So what’s the answer? How do we harness humor and make it work for us, not against us?

People often say that the internet’s international nature makes it an unsuitable environment for humor for fear of it not translating across national boundaries – and inadvertently causing offense. But there are a couple of simple rules which – although not universal panaceas that always work – can help you use humor without risk.

Use humor about situations, not people. If you think about it, the butt of many jokes and other humor is a person or group of people, so it’s hardly surprising that offense is caused. The more extreme types are obvious – mother-in-law jokes, blonde jokes, women jokes, men jokes – but there are many more subtle ones too.

Then there are the nationality gags. I remember in one year hearing exactly the same joke (in three different languages) told by an American about the Polish, by a Canadian about Newfoundlanders, by a French person about Belgians, by a French-speaking Belgian about the Flemish, and by a Flemish person about the Dutch.

Obviously most humor is going to involve people in one way or another. But as long as the butt of the joke is a situation or set of circumstances, not the people, you’re far less likely to upset anyone. And there is an added advantage here. Whoever they are and wherever they come from, people will usually identify with a situation. Take this one for example…

Some people are driving along at night and are stopped by a police car. The officer goes to the driver and warns him that one of the rear lights on his SUV isn’t working. The driver jumps out and looks terribly upset. The officer reassures him that he won’t get a ticket, it’s just a warning, so there’s no problem. “Oh yes there is a problem,” says the man as he rushes towards the back of the car. “if you could see my rear lights it means I’ve lost my trailer.”

As the butt of the joke is the broken rear light and the loss of the trailer, not the policeman or the driver, no-one can be offended. And most people can identify with how that would feel.

The other key issue with humor is wordplays, puns, and anything else that’s based on figurative speech, slang, or jargon. The short answer is they don’t work internationally. However if the play or double entendre is in the concept rather than the words, it probably will work.

These may be funny to us, but would not be understood by anyone who is not a good English speaker because there is a play on the words:

* Deja moo: The feeling that you’ve heard this bull before.
* The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

These, however, probably would be understood because the humor is in the concept, not in the words themselves:

* You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.
* The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.

Overall, I think it’s wise to use humor as a spicy condiment in your business comms. And just as you would with the chili powder, use it in moderation if you don’t know the audience well… and if you know they have a very sensitive palate, don’t use it at all!

Have You Heard Any Good Lawyer Jokes Lately?

It is real fun to crack lawyer jokes among your friends. Specially when you are in some parties or some functions, you find lawyer jokes more entertaining. Comedians have their minds full of lawyer jokes.

It is often said that if you can’t laugh at yourself, you need to lighten up. In the case of lawyer jokes, you might be surprised that many lawyers find them funny as well.

When it comes to jokes, many suggest the lawyer jokes that can really bring a smile in your face. This may or many not be the case, but lawyer jokes certainly highlight the shadier characters in their business.

Have you heard any good lawyer jokes lately? When searching “Lawyer Jokes” online, you will find nearly millions of lawyer jokes on the web. How about these jokes:

A lawyer named Strange died, and his friend asked the tombstone maker to inscribe on his tombstone, “Here lies Strange, an honest man, and a lawyer.”
The inscriber insisted that such an inscription would be confusing, for passers by would tend to think that three men were buried under the stone. However he suggested an alternative. He would inscribe, “Here lies a man who was both honest and a lawyer.”
That way, whenever anyone walked by the tombstone and read it, they would be certain to remark, “That’s Strange.”

A lawyer is sitting at the desk in his new office. He hears someone coming to the door. To impress his first potential client, he picks up the phone as the door opens and says, “I demand one million and not a penny less.” As he hangs up, the man now standing in his office says, “I’m here to hook up your phone.”

A man who had been caught embezzling millions went to a lawyer. His lawyer told him, “Don’t worry. You’ll never go to jail with all that money? In fact, when the man was sent to prison, he didn’t have a penny.

Home-Based Business – The Four Bodies

In the grand tradition of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First” there is a business joke that seems to turn in on itself and leaves you wondering if you’re able to follow what’s being said.

“This is the story of four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. Consequently, it wound up that Nobody told Anybody, so Everybody blamed Somebody.”

I didn’t write the story above and I’ve heard it performed in other ways, but the main point to the somewhat humorous story is that when there are multiple employees it is possible there will be a significant amount of passing the buck.

In a home-based business this scenario cannot play out as easily. Why? Because it is likely that one person performs multiple roles in the small company. That person must own up to mistakes because there is no fall guy waiting to take the blame.

Customers won’t care about Everybody, Somebody, Anybody or Nobody. All they really care about is whether the person in charge is going to take care of things.

I have a friend who purchased a piece of exercise equipment. He lives in a remote area and accepted the extended service contract because it was pointed out that the service is in-home and anywhere within his home country. Within 24 hours of professional setup the machine was malfunctioning.

In the case of my friend he waited for over two months to gain service. In each case the telephone representative passed the buck. In the end, my friend demanded to visit with a supervisor and promised that a complaint would be filed with the Better Business Bureau if there weren’t a plan of action within 10 days. It wasn’t long before Someone stepped up to the plate and made plans to have the equipment repaired.

While this reflects poorly on the manufacturer it should also serve as a cautionary tale for home-based businesses to do what you promise to do. Assume the responsibility required to place the customer first and take care of problems as they arise.

Remember Anybody could do it, Somebody should do it, Everybody thinks it should be dome, but in the end Nobody is the only one to show up – and he can’t do a thing.

That just leaves – you.