You Can’t Be Angry at Someone Who Makes You Laugh

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer and RepChatter Co-host Deb Brown. Be sure to check out Deb's blog,

300px-Happy-birds What’s one of the best ways to diffuse anger?  Humor!  We prefer to say comedy, but according to Michael H. Smith, Ph.D., humor creates an unexpected response that can change an angry situation into a productive one.   The reason we, at Peppercom, prefer comedy is because, in the words of our great Chief Comedy Officer, Clayton Fletcher, humor makes you smile and comedy makes you laugh.

In addition, Smith talks about the importance of self-deprecating humor and how it can turn an argument into a calmer discussion.  “It’s safest to laugh at yourself. Even if you don’t believe you’re at fault, a funny, self-deprecating remark can reduce tension.”

This is why comedy (or humor) is so important in the workplace.  When employees are under a lot of stress, it’s very easy for one person to lash out at or start an argument with a colleague.  Yet, saying something unexpected that is also funny can quickly diffuse the situation.  After all, if you laugh at something someone says, it’s almost impossible to remain angry at that person.

But, organizations need to think about incorporating comedy on an ongoing basis in order to create a good workplace that consistently demonstrates respect for one another and understands how to handle stress.  Comedy will never eliminate tension from an office, but it will help employees deal with it in the right way and improve overall morale. 

Comedy has to become part of the workplace’s DNA so that it becomes second nature to the employees.  And, I don’t mean telling jokes at the water cooler every morning.  When you incorporate comedy into the workplace, you learn how comedic skills translate to business skills.  And, when comedy becomes part of the culture, the way employees deal with stress completely changes. 

When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins that make you feel good. When you feel good, you can’t be angry.

My boss, RepMan Steve Cody, reminded me of a story he heard from public relations executive Howard Rubenstein at a conference.  He and one of his account teams were in a very tense discussion with a client.  The client was yelling that he deserved to be on the cover of BusinessWeek and it was the agency’s team’s fault for not making it happen. Rubenstein leaned back in his chair, pulled out a toy gun, slid it across the table and said, “You want to be on the cover of BusinessWeek?  Here, go shoot someone.  We’ll get you on the cover.”  After a second, the client laughed out loud and the tension was relieved.

Have you ever diffused a bad situation by making someone laugh?  Has anyone done that to you?  How did it make you feel?

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