Knock knock… Who’s there?… Hatch… Hatch who?… God bless you! If you are even remotely similar to me and the other business coach team, then you may have cracked a smile at that joke. Currently, I am in a stage of life with young children, where knock knock jokes make me the cool dad. My kids are young enough that I am still funny and they think I know everything. (Boy do they have a lot to learn) They will have a rude awakening someday, but, until the day when they discover that their dad is not as cool as they thought, I will enjoy making my kids laugh with my silly jokes. I find that if I am able to make my kids laugh, then they are much more open to honesty and correction. As a business coach, I have found that utilizing humor with my clients is an essential skill and tool that must be developed. The same applies to customers, employees and virtually all human interactions. In order to speak truth, be honest and help my clients stay on the proven path, I must incorporate humor into my coaching.
Michael Levine, one of Hollywood’s most prominent PR consultants who has represented 58 Academy Award winners, 34 Grammy Award winners and 41 New York Times best sellers, said that in order to be honest, you must be funny. As my good business coach friend and actor, Jack Nicholson once said, “You can’t handle the truth.” He is right. Most people can’t handle straight truth. Our pride and emotions get in the way. Instead of being grateful that someone is actually willing to be honest, and allowing the information to make us better, people get defensive. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept correction, and in the end you will be wise.” We all need honesty in our life, but are not actually open to hearing it. Because of this, humor is the necessary ingredient that can cushion the blow. When you have the ability to weave humor into truth, it becomes a much more digestible pill for people to swallow.
The same applies to customers, employees and virtually all human interactions. In order to speak truth, be honest and help my clients stay on the proven path, I must incorporate humor into my coaching.
If you are paying attention, you will notice that the best speakers and preachers use humor when they are speaking, in order to communicate truth. They will be telling a funny story and building up anticipation within the audience, then they will drop a truth bomb. Humor allows us to drop our guard and take a more honest look at ourselves. I was observing Clay as a business coach recently doing this with one of his clients. As a part of our program, we have clients install call recording so that they can listen to their team’s calls and help them improve the quality of the interaction. In this particular situation, Clay was listening to a call of the owner’s daughter answering the phone. To put it bluntly, it was a rough call. She wasn’t following the script and did not come even close to closing the sale. Instead of bad mouthing how she did to the owner, he started by telling a funny story about how bad he was at calling when he first started out. Once the owner was laughing about how rough Clay’s business coach calls used to be, Clay then came back with a small piece of feedback for the owner to communicate to his daughter.
Because the owner was able to laugh and his walls started coming down, Clay was able to actually coach this man, communicate truth in a way that was received, and hopefully improve the quality of the calls. I proceeded to watch Clay do this for the entirety of the meeting, each time able to go deeper and deeper with the honesty of his communication. If the owner actually takes the feedback and coaches his daughter, then the calls will be dramatically improved in the next meeting. By utilizing humor, or more specifically, self-deprecating humor, you too can take your own experiences and frame them in a way that brings others walls down so that you can offer them truth and help them develop.
No matter who you are, what kind of personality you naturally have, or what kind of truth you need to communicate, utilizing humor will be a tool in your belt that can help you significantly. For resources that can help develop your ability to do this I would start by reading Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. As you read Steve’s story you will find practical ways to begin to develop your humor. Additionally, take some time to watch Pastor Craig Groeschel and Pastor T.D Jakes. on YouTube.com. Study the way that they tell a story, and how you feel when they speak a truth that could be offensive, but that you receive because of how they communicated it. You and I have the ability to be better communicators and use humor as a way of being a better leader. This will help every area of your life grow.