Dave Hill discusses the importance of choosing to focus on the positive side of life and the quirky humorous happenings rather than being caught up in all the day to day negativities. This concept applies to the workplace as well as our personal lives. To illuminate his point Dave shares a funny story about his wedding….there was a challenge locating acceptable bridesmaid’s dresses. After some failed attempts the “perfect dresses” were purchased. Day after the wedding on the front page of the newspaper was a picture of a gay parade. The picture included two transvestites wearing the exact same dresses as the bridesmaids! The picture resides proudly in our wedding album. Points to Ponder:
Life is quirky…celebrate it with laughter
When conflict or negativity is gnawing at your mind…deal quickly and efficiently with what is within your control.
Let go and move away from struggles you cannot fix.
A humorous outlook is a fantastic coping mechanism and a great way to live a life.
What are your thoughts and life experiences with this?
Dave Hill discusses the tact of using humor when negotiations turn hostile.
To illustrate this he shares a crazy story of when he was on a diving expedition with the Australia Queensland Museum Divers. They were exploring a historic shipwreck called the Pandora (The ship that captured the “Mutiny on the Bounty” sailors).
A healthy sense of humor is a powerful tool for dealing with conflict. When people are laughing, it is very difficult for them to be angry. You are derailing the train of negative thought. Imagine the relief you feel when someone makes a humorous comment during a tense negotiation meeting. Another very important thing I have learned along my life journey is to push my emotions aside and put myself in their shoes. If I was who they are, how would I feel and act? The third and equally important thing is to evaluate all the options. Think creatively on how a mutually acceptable alternative can be achieved.
Enjoy the video! I am proud of this moment… more details below.
When I was about 25 years old, I was on a scientific ship called the Sir Walter Raleigh with the Queensland Museum scuba divers on a six week diving expedition. We were diving on the Pandora wreck on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The Pandora is a famous wreck; it was the ship that was transporting the captured Bounty mutineers (Mutiny on the Bounty) back to Britain, but went aground on the reef. I was on the scientific ship as a volunteer engineer officer working in the engine room without any pay. There was an agreement that in return for working for free, I would participate in the diving expedition. When the ship was anchored near the site of the Pandora wreck, there was tension between me and some of the Queensland Museum divers. They did not want me to accompany them on their dives because it was at a depth of 90 feet. I was a novice diver, and most importantly, I “sucked air” (which basically meant that I used up my air quicker than anyone else and someone had to escort me to the surface ahead of time). They had a valid point, and they were getting angry with my insistence. I was frustrated that I might not be able to dive on the wreck with them again, and I was determined to find a way to be able to dive on this historic wreck.
Somewhere along my life journey, I acquired the ability to come up with creative, wacky ideas that would make people laugh. While working in the engine room on shift, I happened to see a large welding bottle. A flash of inspiration came to mind. With some help from my fellow co-workers, we got the huge bottle up on deck and put it on the aft end of the ship where the divers would get into the rubber dinghies to head to the dive site.
The next morning, about half an hour before the divers assembled on the aft deck, I was fully dressed in my diving gear as I awaited their arrival. When they arrived in a group, there was thunderous laughter when they saw “that crazy Irishman” ready for a dive with more than enough air in his “air tank”! While they were laughing at my mischief, I made my plea. I discussed an alternative plan that would possibly be an acceptable solution to them. I told them that I understood their concerns, that I was sucking air, and that I was making their dive somewhat inefficient. I then offered my thoughts on a solution. I would dive with them, but stay close to the rope that led from the wreck up to the rubber dingy. I would not exert myself; I would just sit on the bottom and watch. In the event that my air consumption was still excessive, I would signal to my dive buddy and go up the rope alone to sit in the dingy.
What can we learn from humor and negotiation
A healthy sense of humor is a powerful tool for dealing with conflict. When people are laughing, it is very difficult for them to be angry. Imagine the relief you feel when someone makes a humorous comment during a tense moment. Another very important thing I have learned along my life journey is to push my emotions aside and put myself in their shoes. If I was who they are, how would I feel and act? The third and equally important thing is to evaluate all the options. Think creatively on how a mutually acceptable alternative can be achieved.
When tension in the workplace is not managed correctly, there can be a gradual erosion of respect and trust amongst employees as well as other destructive mechanisms such as:.
Employees do not work creatively together to come up with a solution
Future negotiations are set up for failure from the start
Energy levels and creativity are sucked out of the workplace and employees lack trust and are combative
Teams that are not cohesive become inefficient and unproductive
A culture of “doing the minimum”
Increased turnover of valued employees
Loss of profits
Deadlines get missed
Stressed worker are more likely to call in sick
Ten ways exceptional workplaces use humor to maintain working relationships and derail tension are:
Employees at all levels of the organization have a sense of playfulness amongst each other, and it is encouraged
Communications include lighthearted humor to take the edge off any upcoming changes or challenges
Confrontational meetings have adversaries making fun of each other in a respectful manner
People make fun of situations rather than people- it emotionally distances us from the circumstances
A sense of humor is considered a core competency, and provides resilience and a means to cope with stressful occasions
People make fun of themselves (the safest type of humor)
We have a lot of celebrations for special events where people can be themselves and have fun and laughter without fear of being criticized
Use humor wisely; do not allow negative humor and sarcasm to erode the workplace. Make fun of the situation- not the people.
Conflict should be resolved face-to-face where possible, so that body language can be observed and used. Reflective & emphatic listening, eye contact, and other body language is critical
Employees use humor often enough that they get to read the mood of others and determine if levity is appropriate for the situation
People often question whether it’s appropriate to use humor in the business world. The correct response is, “Only if you want to be effective and successful.” In this video Dave Hill provides a very funny example of a potentially high anxiety business situation where lightheartedness “crept in” and turned this into a memorable interaction.
When used appropriately, incorporating humor helps keep people fully engaged. Humor can help you come across as more authentic, which in turn helps people like and trust you more. Remember, if people are going to buy your message, they have to first buy you.
Use humor and lightheartedness in business communication to:
Dave Hill – Speaker, Trainer, Author, & Speech Coach
Before using humor I have trained my brain to generally ask, “Is what I am about to say appropriate for the occasion, and also for the audience.” If one person might be upset and/or embarrassed then I keep it to myself. The following is an example of a humor dilemma! [youtube]https://youtu.be/uC-UHG2ookw?t=1s[/youtube]
In this two minute video Dave Hill provides some amusing thoughts on using humor in the business forum. Always make sure your humor is appropriate for the audience and the occasion. [youtube]http://youtu.be/M4mVD8vTEEw[/youtube]
A presenter’s peers can save the day with clarifications, humor.
Business Communication Skills: Colleagues to the rescue
Learn presentation skills that give you the tools you need.
Imagine you are in a room full of highly technical engineers. You are an employee of a consulting company that is presenting information to them on various research topics. As you give your talk you expect pointed questions, cynical remarks, sarcasm and even some playful humor. At the back of the room sit your peers, waiting their turn to present.
I attended this meeting with other consultants, some of whom were relatively new to the field and some of whom had Ph.D.s. Their presentation abilities ranged from those who could remain calm through the question period and provide good answers, to those who were scared to death and couldn’t answer the questions very well. Age and experience did not seem to be a factor. A few of the younger speakers coped quite well, and I suspect they had gained experience and training at college and other venues.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?
Culture of helpfulness: As the presenters were challenged and questioned, they occasionally froze trying to understand the technical question and form an answer with adequate detail. I hate to see anyone put on the spot (I have been there myself), and it made me feel good to hear the presenter’s peers at the back of the room jumping in to help clarify the question and provide information. This is an excellent culture of employees who have an inherent instinct to help each other and make sure that all are successful. This in turn maintains the image of the research/consulting company, which is hoping to make a sale.
Exceptional workplaces have a strong focus on making sure employees have good communication skills, a sense of balanced fun and respect, and trust for each other. Instead of sitting at the back and smirking as the presenter “crashes and burns,” fellow employees will do anything to help advance each other and the company.
Death by public speaking: The second visual I have from the meeting was that of a relatively young consultant who was presenting. It was an image I have seen before in different forums, and it haunts me. The young man appeared scared to death and was nervously coughing and clearing his throat. His peers helped him out when they could, but his stress just grew. I was relieved when he finished and sat down.
Fright and poor presentation skills are preventable. Organizations such as Toastmasters International can help a person become a good speaker in six to 12 months and an exceptional speaker if a person stays longer. The cost for six months of public speaking training can be less than a tank of gasoline. Many companies send their employees to Toastmasters to help them succeed. Find a club at www.toastmasters.org.
You have to laugh: The third visual I have from this meeting is that of an experienced presenter trying to get a video to work in PowerPoint. The documentation for his research project included a high-speed video of a large test explosion, which would show a flame running through a flammable vapor cloud and transitioning into a fearful explosion. Explosion videos are one of the highlights of these presentations, and everyone waited in anticipation.
The presenter spent a minute or two trying to get the video to work but was unsuccessful. “You will need to act out the explosion,” one of his peers shouted from the back. Another shouted: “Can you do an interpretive dance?” The presenter was the type who could take the humorous comments in stride, and the room erupted in laughter. With the laughter in the room the failure of the video became inconsequential and the presentation continued without it.
The presenter’s peers knew that humor was appropriate for him. They knew he had a sense of humor and would “play with their comments.” I am sure you would agree that the comments would not have been appropriate for the previously described stressed presenter. Humor is a great tool to have in a meeting or presentation, but be careful it does not cross the line and hurt someone. If there is a single person in the room who would be impacted negatively by the humor, it is not worth it.