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January 29, 2018

26 ways to success - J for Joviality - "Be Jovial but dont be a Joker" article published in The Hans India on 9th April 2016

Be Jovial but don’t be a Joker

Man is the only species that can smile. It is the gift that is bestowed to make him popular and get his work done smoothly. It is said “It takes 21 muscles to smile and 72 to frown”. So why waste energy frowning? Smile and the world smiles with you and cry and you cry alone. One survey has proved what we always knew –we all like comedy and comedy tickles our funny bone. It does not come as big surprise to know that comedy movies and serials are a big draw. Two of the most popular Telugu channels are Gemini Comedy and ETV PLUS. Telugu films have the best comedians in the entire Indian film industry.

Modern day Organizations can be very stressful and taxing. Work is relentless and the pressure can be daunting. The best way to deflect the tension is to use humour that will deflate and disarm people. Audrey Hepburn the famous actress had a pencil thin frame. She was once confronted by a lout (an uncouth individual with no manners or etiquette). “Audrey” said the Lout “were you ever mistaken for a man?” Audrey drew herself to her full height looked at the lout straight in the eye and said “No, were you?” The answer stumped the lout into silence and humiliation. Such is the power of ready wit and humour.

I started my career as a sales person. Most sales people are very good at all the sales functions, like prospecting, meeting the customers and getting a sale. But one thing all sales people hate is the daily drudgery of filling up the DSR (Daily Sales Report). They inevitably delay it. Our Area Sales Manager (ASM) has a poster which had a sad looking Chimpanzee sitting on a toilet seat. The chimpanzee is looking very wistfully at the toilet paper. The caption on the poster says it all “no work is complete until the paper work is done”.

Our ASM was continuously badgered for credit from our customers. So he has a new poster put up. The poster said “Our Credit Manager’s name is Helen Wait, so if you want credit, go to hell and wait”. Most customers found this poster extremely funny and rib-tickling!  

Once I was delivering a lecture. One audience member was trying to be as disagreeable as possible. This audience member would continuously object whatever was said and try to disturb the flow. Sensing that things were getting out of hand, I said “There are two types of people in this world, those who do not agree with view point of fools and those who agree” Looking at the audience member, I smiled and said “I belong to the second category, I agree with your viewpoint” much to the delight of the entire audience.

Sometimes most of my students do not come up to my expectations. I tell them. Big Ethel the plain looking girl from the Archie comics had entered a beauty pageant as a contestant. The results came in and Big Ethel was crestfallen. Looking at her haggard face, Veronica (her friend) says “What happened?” Big Ethel “I got the second prize”. Veronica responds “WOW, that is great news, you should be thrilled, why the long face?” Big Ethel grimaces “I was the only contestant and they gave me the second prize” Even though the class roars in laughter they get the message. Shape out or ship out.

I got into the class in the afternoon and say “Good morning” There are snickers from the back and some say good morning and some say good afternoon. Once Akbar tasted a very delicious brinjal curry. He is enamored by the dish and says “Wow, brinjal is a great vegetable” Catching on Birbal says “Yes Jahapanna, look at the colour, look at the texture and look at the shape. Yes indeed Brinjal is the king of all vegetables”. Suitably impressed Akbar makes Brinjal the official vegetable of the Mughal Empire and starts eating it every day.

After some time Akbar gets bored with brinjal and says “I had enough of this stupid vegetable” Birbal says “I agree Jahapanna, see the colour, it is faded, it is not even symmetrical, it has too many seeds and it is not even very tasty”. Akbar is surprised. He says “Birbal just a few days ago you were singing peons of praise about brinjal. Why the sudden change of heart?” Birbal is quick to respond “Oh great king, you are my emperor and not Brinjal. I will mimic whatever you say!” I tell the students “If the recruiter says good morning, wish him back the same way. The recruiter has the power. He can make or mar your careers. It is better to agree with him”. And by the way when we meet a person for the first time in a day, it is perfectly all right to say “Good morning”.

Golden rules of being Humorous
1.     Be humorous but don’t be sarcastic: It always pays to be humorous. But being sarcastic makes the receivers wary. Let the humour be clean and enjoyable.

2.      Take the joke on yourself: All of us like the circus buffoon. He lets everyone take pot shots at him. Similarly we should let the joke be on us. It makes us more human and people like a person who is modest, unassuming and is ready to laugh at himself.

3.   Don’t hurt people: For God’s sake, don’t hurt people. People have enormous memories and they don’t forget insults. If the joke backfires, apologize immediately. It is better to be safe than to be sorry. Don’t let the wounds fester.

4.     Be careful: It is no longer acceptable  to joke about people’s sizes, body shapes, gender, caste, creed, skin colour, language, physical handicaps  or joke about a particular sect or a group of people.

5.   No off colour jokes or insinuations: Off colour jokes with double meanings and innuendoes are universally disliked. Apart from being disliked they might lead the person into lot of trouble. People have lost jobs and spoiled their careers with this type of behaviour. Any discomfort now a days can lead to a complaint of harassment. And harassment at work place is viewed very seriously.

6.   Take the seriousness out of a situation:  By cracking a joke, the seriousness is taken out of a stressful situation. But one should remember that once the joke is cracked and others smile, it is better to go back to the serious matter at hand. A series of jokes can make others very irritable. They had assembled to discuss a topic and not to listen to a standup comedian peddle his wares.

7.   Laugh with people and not at people: This one is very important. Laugh with people and don’t laugh at them. Be inclusive and make everyone be a part of the fun. Team work always wins.  

8.    Don’t hog the limelight:  be generous in allowing others to crack jokes and appreciate somebody else who too is humorous. Take the group along with you. Win along with others. Winning with a group is the best elixir of work.  

9.  Be prepared to take the floor: A humorous person always takes the opportunities to make the situation become light and enjoyable. So be prepared with an assortment of humorous incidents. Our smartphones can help – store some delightful anecdotes. You never know when they are needed!

10. Try to be original: In the modern world most of the jokes have already been circulated in the social media. So try to bring in some original content. Original content is always appreciated. Observe. There are so many new things to learn. Try to look at the sunny side. It always pays to be agreeable. One of the most liked columns in Readers Digest is “Humor in real life”. And that says it all.

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