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How to Use Humor to be a Better Leader

How to Use Humor to be a Better Leader

I tried to start a hot air ballooning business, but it never took off. Corny, right? Turns out, jokes like these are good for business, especially when you’re trying to lead a team, a company, an organization or even your kids.The ability to find the funny in your circumstances and make people laugh is an often overlooked but valuable trait.  

 

Humor builds harmony. 

Think of the leaders you’ve followed. Perhaps a coach, teacher, professor or even a peer. Who were you closest to? More than likely, they were the ones who didn’t mind telling a joke or two—or twelve. Using humor in your business and personal communication builds up your rapport among those around you. It helps to make you relatable, engaging and even trustworthy. 

Humor can also help to build connections with people across cultures, languages and age ranges. If it’s used appropriately, humor brings people together and makes you appear as a comfortable, connected and captivating leader. 

 

Humor strengthens your team.

When you’re leading a team and use humor as part of your style, it can have a bonding affect on your team members. First, it relaxes them.  Second, laughing and having fun with one another stimulates a sense of communal culture, establishing team members often as more than just coworkers, but also friends. Use humor in your leadership role and watch as it breaks down barriers between team members, who can then engage, connect and collaborate well with each other. 

 

Humor makes people like you.

Everyone enjoys someone who can make them laugh. Not only does humor help to build your reputation and friendships, but it makes people like you. And when people like you, they’re most likely to support you, more likely to help you out and more likely to follow you in any leadership roles you may take on. It’s not about being the class clown; it’s about finding humor where you can and using it in appropriate ways to make people feel more comfortable. Laughter naturally takes down people’s defenses. 

 

Humor puts things in perspective.

Sometimes life can be tough (looking at you, 2020). However, using humor can help destress things sometimes and help people laugh at circumstances that might otherwise feel overwhelming. Case in point: How many quarantine memes have you seen throughout this year? Of course, you want to lead with sensitivity and know the right time to make light of a situation or crack a joke—if you use humor in the wrong situation, you can come across as insensitive. But if you’re smart about it, helping people find the humor in life can be a great quality. 


 

Humor can break the tension.

Last but certainly not least, humor can break the tension in high-stress situations.. Sometimes conflicts may arise both in and out of the workplace, and humor can actually help to diffuse a tense situation. It can act as a “reset” button, help de-stress things and allow everyone to relax and restart on a lighter note. Of course, again, you have to know when the time and situation is right—sometimes humor can be seen as a way to skirt around serious issues, and not all conflicts are laughing matters. But when it’s appropriate, humor can help melt an icy situation and help everyone get in sync again. 

If you’re in a leadership position or hoping to be one day, try implementing humor into more of your interactions. Even if you’re not the funniest person in the world, you may discover a witty side that’s able to put people at ease and make people chuckle.