Humour 101 … is it playful or painful?

Humour is used everyday with little thought given to the effect it might have on others.

Imagine … a balloon and a brick. Each time we attempt to use a bit of humour with others we should measure our approach against these two items.

Consider the balloon … It is light, buoyant and colourful. We are attracted to it, love what it represents and when it’s released we enjoy watching it move freely around us. As we are drawn to it, we are compelled to pat it, swat it, flick it or do anything else to keep it floating in the air. An example of this is when they toss a beach ball into the air at a stadium. People will jump out of their seats to reach out to it just to be a part of the fun.

Humour encompasses the same positive effects. If your style of humour is balloon like, people will be magnetized to it. They’ll feel good about it and want to immerse themselves in the warmth of the banter.  Most importantly, it’s playful, with no daggers, needles or sharp edges to inflict pain.

However, if your approach with humour is more like the brick, it’s bound to hurt when hurled. As you unload you’ll notice people will turn away and retreat from it to avoid the attack. They have no desire to be a part  of the interaction. And with each brick tossed the wall between you extends higher … not the best way to make an ally.

So next time you prepare to engage in some humour with others consider if it’s akin to releasing the balloon or more like throwing the brick. If it’s the latter, I suggest you think twice unless you know first aid or can run like lightning. Otherwise I sure hope you enjoy your own company.

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