Get More Laughter In Your Life!
David Granirer - North America's Psychotherapist/Stand-Up Comic
Volume 1, Issue 4
Editor: David Granirer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Publisher: David Granirer http://www.granirer.com
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IN THIS ISSUE
1. Welcome from the Publisher
2. Tips For Using Humor With People In Emotional Pain
3. What's Good Stories
4. Classified Ads
5. Contact Information
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1. WELCOME FROM THE PUBLISHER
Most of us know people who have gone through tough times emotionally. And often we'd like to help them lighten up, but are afraid we'll do or say the wrong thing. So this month I thought I'd give you some tips for using humor with people in emotional pain. If anyone has any stories about times when you've done this, please email them to me and I'll include them in the "What's Good Stories" section.
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2. TIPS FOR USING HUMOR WITH PEOPLE IN EMOTIONAL PAIN
by David Granirer © 2000
Humor can be a great way to help people in emotional pain. When used effectively, it can help them get some relief, feel supported, and regain a sense of perspective.
But it can also backfire. When people hurt, they're more sensitive, and what would normally be an innocuous joke can be interpreted as an insult or put-down.
There is an old comedy formula that says Comedy=Tragedy+Time. In order to laugh about something painful, we need to have some emotional distance. Think of your own life. You may have some hilarious stories about when you got fired or divorced, but at the time these things happened, you may have been hard-pressed to see the funny side. So when people you know are going through painful life events, it's usually a good idea to hold back on the jokes or good natured kidding.
I say usually, because it's when people go through these situations that they most need to laugh. However, you may not be the appropriate person to get them laughing. Making jokes with people who are emotionally raw is a high-risk undertaking. And in these circumstances, the closer you are emotionally, the more latitude you have to take risks.
Emotional closeness is based on two factors. First, if you have a trusting friendship with someone, that obviously brings you emotionally closer. Second, if you've been through or are going through what she's been through, you're emotionally close. For example, I've worked with suicide survivors, who when in groups of other suicide survivors make the blackest jokes, even though they hardly know each other. The fact that they've all been through it gives them a kind of unspoken permission to make jokes about this highly sensitive topic, whereas if an outsider made these jokes they'd consider it offensive.
Often when people trust you, they'll give you permission to use humor by initiating it themselves. In general, even when you're emotionally close to them, it's a good idea to follow their lead rather than go charging ahead full steam.
If you're not close to someone who is emotionally raw, the low-risk choice is to avoid using humor at all. Another choice you have which is slightly higher risk but can be very effective is to go for safe humor areas like:
1. Joking about something totally unrelated to the area of emotional sensitivity, like the weather, local sports team, local politics, etc.
2. Joking about something you and that individual do have in common. So if you work together, making jokes about the workplace (as long as the area of pain isn't work-related) can be a good way of getting a laugh. Or if you both have kids or share common interests, these can be safe areas to joke about. By doing this you create a bond with this person and help them feel less alone. As Victor Borge said, "Humor is the shortest distance between two people."
3. "Goofy" humor which involves props like rubber chickens or Groucho Marx glasses. This sort of clowning around is a great form of distraction.
4. Kindness humor which involves doing something nice but unexpected which creates good feelings. This can include sending an encouraging email or if you work together, leaving a cookie or card on their desk.
Depending on the amount of pain people are in, you'll get different responses to your attempts at humor. I think it's best to be gentle in your efforts, monitoring the other's responses to see if more humor is warranted or if you need to back off and just let him be. And if you're not sure what to do, always err on the side of caution, or wait for him to initiate.
However, you may be surprised by what you get back. Some people who are going through "stuff" are just dying for the chance to joke about it, and once they sense your willingness to go along, it's open season. Also, when it comes to humor, there are always situations where breaking the rules can get big laughs. The only problem is, no one can say for sure what those situations are, though many of us have experienced them.
So to stay safe, stick to what I've written in this article, but if the you get a sudden intuition, go for it!
For free articles about laughter go to http://www.granirer.com.
3. WHAT'S GOOD STORIES
It's so easy to see all the bad things around us, that sometimes we forget about all the great things that go on. And we need to hear about good things because that gives us hope and inspires us to go out and do more good things.
In this section, I want to hear from you. What's happened in your life that's good? What things have people done that inspire you to be kind to others? What funny things have happened?
Email your short stories to me at email@example.com, and if I publish yours, you get a free copy of my tape "I'm OK But YOU Need Professional Help"!
This month's story is contributed by Jamie Carrico who attended a presentation I did for the Bay Area Professionals in Relocation Management in San Francisco.
I recently (and quite abruptly) changed careers. I really needed the change in my life. My last job had what a friend dubbed a "toxic" work environment. I vowed my new career would be different.
The position I chose was with a very small, but progressive, company. They believe that people work better in comfortable clothes, and in a softer environment. No cubicles, just a big open room. No fluorescent lighting, just desk lamps, and the occasional floor lamp. Everyone stays busy, no gossip around the water cooler. I knew this would really be better for me.
Today happened to be a very stressful day. Everyone was busy! All of a sudden, from the middle of the room, came the LOUDEST fart noise I have ever heard. Every single person in the office stopped talking and working. Some people even hung up the phone. The room erupted with laughter as my boss stood up from her desk and said "excuse me." We could not stop laughing. After the noise subsided, she held up a giant whoopee cushion.
We all knew that it wasn't very mature to laugh at a fart, but it broke up the tension. Everyone went back to work with a laugh. Off and on through the day we'd hear a muffled fart sound, and smile. This boss is also the one to decorate your desk on your birthday, and smear cake on your face when you blow out the candles. I can tell that maintaining a positive atmosphere in the midst of hard stressful work is important to her.
The company is doing great, and I am so happy to be a part of it.
EDITORS NOTE: A great example of diversionary humor. To learn
more about this concept, read my article "Let's Not Take It Too
Seriously: How To Use Humor To Defuse Stress" by going to
4. CLASSIFIED ADS
*****GET MORE LAUGHTER IN YOUR LIFE!*****
Check out David's tapes, posters, buttons at
Speakers: Learn how to incorporate stand-up comedy into your
presentations. Check out David's s stand-up comedy skills coaching
for presenters at: <http://www.granirer.com/ComedyCourse.htm>
5. CONTACT INFORMATION
David Granirer gives laughter in the workplace presentations for hundreds of organizations throughout North America. For more information on his presentations, stand-up comedy, products, and articles call (604) 205-9242 or go to http://www.granirer.com
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