Course Description: The Link Between Pressure and Performance: How to Use Humor@Work

Target Audience

Managers, supervisors, executives and individual contributors who want to add humor to their presentation style, their workplace relationships, and to their life. No previous experience required; just a sense of humor and the ability to laugh without smiling.

Course Objectives

Assess your own “Humor Quotient” (HQ) to add humor or find ways to use it without crossing over lines.

  • Discover the link between pressure and performance, and how to use strategies for balancing seriousness with silliness, force with frivolity, focus on result with flexibility and fun in relationships.
  • Understanding when humor is appropriate (and when it isn’t), how to detect and respond to early signals from other people, and when to keep your sense of humor to yourself.
  • Learn or be reminded of practical tools for adding humor to your work and to your life (torturing other people is optional but highly recommended).

Course Contents

  1. Purpose of the Course, Learning Objectives, Participant Outcomes
  2. Self-Assessment: What is your Humor Quotient (HQ)?
  3. Five Steps to Adding Humor to your work and to your life
  • Meet Yourself Where You Are
    • Building a context for humor in your life
    • Acknowledge what you don’t want, focus fully on what you do want
    • Pick the right time, right place for humor (like now, perhaps!?!)
  • Get Resourceful, Get Creative
      • Sorting out the voices: dreamer, realist, critic
      • Key to mental health: “correct” interpretation of events
      • Playing “what if …”
  • Be Response-able: Maintain Healthy Boundaries
    • Agree to take on only the optimal amount of responsibility; renegotiate any over-commitment early enough to get it handled some other way
    • Plan for life balance (or better, a sustainable rhythm)
  • Seven Humor Formulas to Lighten the Load (see below) and practice using them
  • Notice if there’s Learning Happening

3. The Seven Forms of Humor

  • Plays on words

    My son and I, attending a wedding, were asked by the usher if we were on the groom’s side or on the bride’s side. My son was shocked. “Are they taking sides already?
    – Lillian Koslover

    • Reverses
                • I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.  – Jonathan Winters
    • Triples

The thing about being a humorist is that if you can make just one person laugh, if you only get one smile, if you can make only one person happy, then you know your act stinks!

– Gene Perret

    • Paired elements (sometimes incongruent)

An optimist sees a challenge in every calamity.
A pessimist sees a calamity in every challenge.

    • Exaggeration

The scarecrow scared the crows so badly that they brought back the corn they had stolen two years before.
– Fred Allen

    • Understatement

If there is a God, why are there such things as famine and day-time TV?
– Woody Allen

    • Realism
            • My way of joking is to tell the truth. It is the funniest joke in the world.  – George Bernard Shaw

4. Resources for Creativity and Innovation

    • Brainstorming Techniques
    • Using “What if…” (for example, “What if you knew you could not fail…”
    • The Disney Strategy –planning and creative problem-solving tool using three types of conversations
    • The Dreamer: Collaborative Idea Conversations
    • The Realist: Evaluation Conversations
    • The (Constructive) Critic: Decision Conversations

5. The Relationship between Pressure and Performance – Conclusions

“Laughing, like elation, seems to help people think more broadly and associate more freely, noticing relationships that might have eluded them otherwise ….”

      • – Daniel Goldman, author of Emotional Intelligence

Course Length:

1.5 – 8 hours total classroom time

Delivery options:

        • (a) One half-day module as part of a series on related topics; or

(b) 1-day offsite / planning / strategy session / retreat.