Victor Borge once said that humor is the shortest distance between two people, and I must tell you, I heartily agree.
Given their options, most sane human beings would choose to do business with someone who is pleasant, courteous, warm, friendly, hospitable and dare I say, fun. Yes, of course it’s critical to be dependable, reliable, credible, responsive and intelligent, but given that, isn’t it great to also have an experience that is enjoyable?
Isn’t it always more pleasurable to do business with someone who has the ability to lighten, as well as enlighten, a situation? Now, I am not suggesting that customer service isn’t SERIOUS business – you know it is. But what I am suggesting is that when a customer can feel comfortable with a customer-caring representative of your company they will have more trust and confidence in the whole company. Often, an easy way to build that bridge of understanding is through the human sharing of the common need for joy.
When you ask people to recount some of the most pleasurable experiences of their lifetimes, they often tell of times when they were having fun. Times when they laughed together with others, shared a chuckle, were amused or lightened by the same perspective of a situation. Some even tell of work experiences where the whole team pulled together toward a common goal.
Humor is used to bond with others, to lighten the heavy load of living and often to relieve stress.
After a real rough airplane landing in Phoenix, a Flight Attendant announced over the system, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we’ll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.”
I’d say that even the most frightened of the passengers on that flight got a hearty enough laugh from that announcement to at least take the edge off of the stress they were experiencing.
In our day-to-day interactions with customers and colleagues there may be many opportunities to have fun.
They can be spontaneous or elaborately planned. Either way they make the experience more enjoyable and more memorable – and isn’t that what you’re after, experiences that both your staff and your customers will remember and recount fondly?
What are you doing to smile more, laugh more, enjoy your job more? What are you doing to dee-light your customers? Are you spreading a little joy in the world? Think about it, talk about it, create a plan in your business to make it happen.
One of the big capital “Q” Questions I recommend everyone takes home from my executive meetings is “What can we do to create more positive emotions around here?” Another is “How can we create remarkable experiences worth coming back for and worth telling friends about?
Both questions stimulate thinking in your staff in a new way. I like to call that “Possibility Thinking”.
Now of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that there are guidelines to sharing humor.
So here are my thoughts on that:
- Jokes that make fun of anyone’s gender, ethnicity, accent, religion, sexual preferences, etc. are never appropriate
- Joking with someone from a different culture, unless you know them or the culture well, should be avoided especially if over the phone or in email.
- Use good taste and judgment – joking should never make anyone uncomfortable
- It’s okay to poke fun at yourself – if you know the other party understands this kind of humor
- Humor should be appropriate to the situation -it’s great to break tension — if you know for sure it’s understood. Be in rapport with others and you’ll be able to sense when it’s appropriate.
It’s just good common sense make sure everyone knows those simple guidelines and once they do, make it a practice look for more things that create positive capacity at work.
Science has discovered that high performing teams have a positivity to negative ratio of 5:1.
That’s five times more of the “good stuff” – affirmation, praise, acknowledgement, joy, fun, happiness than the “negative stuff”. (3:1 is the Tipping point ) I’ll let teacher and author Barbara Frederickson explain it in a short video (on sidebar or click link) which you can watch (8 minutes) after reading this.
Add to that the good news that optimists live 8-9 years longer than pessimists and the experience of positive emotions builds resilience, strengthens the immune system, opens the mind to think more broadly and makes you healthier – what’s not to like about creating more JOY?
Oh yeah.. happy companies have higher sales, profit and better customer loyalty too!
There’s a tremendous value to happiness as work
As my friends at the fun, friendly New Pig Corp would say, “Have a swine day!”