Humor As A Negotiation Tool, Or How Humor Saved The World

OCTOBER 1962 – The world held its breath as America and Russia went to the brink, with nuclear weapons at the ready. Russia was installing nuclear missiles in Cuba-a mere 90 miles from the Florida coast. The 13-day crisis played-out in real time on TV around the world.

As American and Soviet delegates came together to negotiate, tensions were high, and they soon became deadlocked. And then… a Russian delegate told a joke: “What is the difference between Capitalism and Communism? In Capitalism, man exploits man. In Communism, it is the other way around.”

Delegates on both sides laughed, and this created a bond among all of them. (Hey, ya gotta start somewhere!) With the tension eased for the moment, talks resumed, and eventually a deal was struck that avoided blowing up the planet-no small feat!

Whether you’re negotiating for world peace or for which movie to go to, humor can play a crucial role in your success.

According to a recent study on business negotiations, humor has numerous functions in the negotiation process. It can put the negotiators at ease; it can introduce a difficult issue; it can foster togetherness and team spirit; it can help the other negotiator save face; and it can be a way of being cooperative in spite of disagreement.

Additional studies show that if you can inject humor into your negotiations, you’re more likely to get what you’re negotiating for.

Once when I was negotiating with a potential client over the phone, it became obvious that budget was a delicate topic. I could feel the tension rising, and when he posed the question: “How much is this going to cost me?” I wanted to reduce the tension.

I paused and said, “Are you sitting down??” He laughed, and from that point, the conversation about money went smoothly.

Those four little words, spoken in just the right tone of voice, have helped me close dozens of deals over the years.

Think strategically. Who do you negotiate with? It might be with a colleague, a competitor, a customer, an employee, a boss, a colleague or even a family member. (You do understand, I hope, that getting a child to go to bed is not something that you command, but rather something you negotiate. Some of those rugrats make Johnnie Cochran look like an amateur. And don’t even get me started on teenagers!)

What are you negotiating for? Examine it and look for an opportunity to weave in a little humor-like a humorous and relevant anecdote, a funny comment or gesture. You probably want to start with something whimsical. Something short. Something that relates to the situation at hand. Negotiations are often important and intense, so use humor wisely, cautiously and professionally. (No “sharp jabs” like Don Rickles is famous for!)

The ability to successfully negotiate is a helpful skill for everyone, but it’s an essential tool for anyone who plans to sell or lead. You may not be called upon to save the world from nuclear war-but I guarantee that sometime soon you will be called upon to save a deal, or make the sale, or advance your agenda in some manner. Humor, used strategically, can make you a more powerful and effective negotiator.

Importance Of Humor In Your Speech

Some keynote speaker says that they do not use humor in their speech because it does not go with their comfort. In fact any body can use humor and it is a very valuable tool in speaking. Apt humorous speech relaxes your audience and creates more comfortable feel with you as a humorous speaker. Humor could also bring attention to the point you are making; and it as well help the audience better remember your point. It actually breaks down barriers so that the audience is more open to your tips and ideas.

The best and most comfortable place to find humor is only out your own personal experience. Just think back on any embarrassing moment that you may have thought not funny at that time. Now that you are sharing the experience, you understand how funny it is. There is an old saying “Humor is simply tragedy separated by time and space.” Or just think of any incident that was funny to be shared. Here, you are not trying to be comedian; you just want to make it easy for people to pay attention and to assist them remember your actual point.

Here are some ideas on using humor to make your next speech have more impact.

Verify that the humor is funny.

If you don’t normally laugh or smile at the cartoon, funny story, pun, joke, story, or other forms of humor, then you surely cannot expect an audience to do so. A key to using humor is only using humor, which makes you laugh or smile.

Use related Humor.

Do not use humor that is merely there to make the viewers laugh. The humor needs to tie in with some facet of your speech. For example, I tell about my experience of getting braces at age 50 and how hard it was for me to get used to the wires and rubber bands in my mouth. After I tell the story I make the point that you might have not had the braces difficulty I had, but we all have facing in speaking well, and what we desire to look at today are ways of making it simple for us to be more effectual in speaking. This would in turn make no sense, so be apt and use related humor to your topic.

Start with impressive short.

A starting point may be to abridge a cartoon and give the title as your humor. A stimulating yet intelligent line about a point you are making is one more way of getting started. For example, when I talk about inspiration and getting out of your ease zone, a line I found that worked well was, “Orville Wright did not have a pilot’s license.” In your reading, look for lines, which make you smile; think how they may be used in your next coming speech. Be careful about initiation into a long humorous story–audiences are fast to forgive a single line, which might not be funny, but they do not have much patience with a huge story that isn’t worth the time. So you need to start out with smart and inspiring bits of humor.

Scabies Humor

I know, I know! The above two words are what you call an oxymoron, if ever there was one! (For those who don’t know what that is, it is two words said together that are opposite in meaning, such as “he’s a big little guy”.)

If you have scabies and are reading this, I applaud you for your desire to find humor in everything. As a person who has fought scabies for almost a year, I have had much time to meditate on such humor, and I admit, scabies jokes are few, it seems. In fact, it almost seems sacrilegious to approach the subject. An internet search for scabies jokes only reveals the dour attitude of many scabies sufferers. But the saying is true: a merry heart does good, like a medicine. So read on, and, if you have scabies, follow the link at the end to find the scabies cure.

What do you call scabies at Christmastime?

  • A lousy way to spend Christmas!

What not to say to a person who has scabies:

Some things are just better not said to someone you know who has scabies, here is a list:

  • “How are you?” “Are you ok”
  • “This is insane!” (Even if you’re talking about something else)
  • “Little buggers”
  • “Good night”
  • “Good morning”
  • “Let’s get a bite to eat”
  • “hell” “purgatory” “torture” “Punishment” “death” “fire and brimstone” “devilish” “hellish”
  • “nightmare”
  • “Little imps”
  • “Creepy” or “Creepy crawly”
  • “Bloodsucking”
  • “happy”
  • “Don’t bug me!” or “That always bugs me”
  • “Scarred for life”
  • Temperamental words such as “bitchy” (it rhymes too much with itchy, and is unfortunately how many who have scabies feel, with or without the b in front).
  • Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite
  • “That really got under your skin, didn’t it?”
  • “Skin” or “skin care”
  • “infectious” even ‘her laughter was infectious’
  • Anything that starts with “sc” especially “scratch“, but includes, scar, scarred, scare, scared, or scary, scorpion, scandalous, scrape, scoop, score, scone, scope, Scott, ‘scape (or escape), school, scale, scrunch, screen, scoff, scream (includes ice cream, sounds too much like ‘I scream’), scowl, scorn, scan, Scooby, scour, scout, scram, scraping, scarf, scat, scrawl, scrub, scuff, scourge, screech, scoot, scorch, schedule, sciatic, Scandinavia, scalp, scald……….or any other word you can possibly think of that starts with ‘sc’ (please consult the dictionary).

What does one person who has scabies say to another?

  • Life’s an itch, isn’t it?