Making someone laugh (with you, not at you) is definite progress. Humor attracts and holds attention. Many a person has walked away from a conversation out of sheer boredom. Make them laugh and they will like you. Humor can help make a great impression because it appeals to a person’s need for pleasure and release.
Think I am just joking around? Humor has been scientifically proven to relieve stress, motivate, and improve relationships. The use of good humor relaxes people; in that state, they become more open. A tense or uncomfortable person is far less able or willing to have a good discussion with you.
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” — Victor Borge
Common sense is a prerequisite for using humor successfully. Avoid any attempt at political, sexual, or religious humor. Refrain from making off-color or derogatory remarks about others. Trying to get a chuckle at the expense of others shows a lack of professionalism, character, and good sense.
No jokes. Tell stories.
A joke is rarely original, memorable, or all that funny. (Of all the jokes you’ve been told in your life, how many do you remember?) They don’t help the person you are talking to get to know you. Jokes make you look like you are trying too hard. They are contrived.
Jokes force your audience into the uncomfortable position of having to smile or chuckle when they’re not amused. They act more as a shield than anything. Jokes are often risky because most are demeaning to some group of people. Stories are where it’s at.
They are genuine and offer a window into the real you.
The highest form of humor is to laugh at yourself; the lowest form is to laugh at someone else. Tell personal stories where the lesson is learned, or the embarrassment is suffered at your own expense. It will make you appear more vulnerable, more approachable, more human. Poke fun at yourself and people will laugh with you, not at you.
Don’t be afraid of putting some egg on your own face early in the conversation. Self-deprecating humor is so effective that it is highly regarded as a leadership trait. It reflects confidence and strength. It shows that you are secure enough to laugh at yourself. It also creates instant rapport, defuses tension, and makes you more likable. Learn to laugh at what you do, without laughing at who you are.
Quick One Liner:
“I’m such a bad speller, my spell checker is stunned.”
Tell stories that gently poke fun at yourself. Doing this acts as a social lubricant and shows that you are comfortable in your own skin and at ease with life. It encourages your listener to feel the same way. “Laugh and the world laughs with you.”