Posted tagged ‘humor’

My Experiences -Last time (MELT) – 0913

November 29, 2013

Humor in Management

“When I was born I was so ugly that the doctor slapped my mother”. This is not about me but a joke I heard some time back.

When I was born I was cute and I believe the doctor said “He looks like a European child” which made my father nervous. However, as the time passed my father relaxed and Doctors slapped himself.

Recently I was in a stressful meeting and suddenly I cracked a joke which had a great sense of timing thus releasing the tension in the room and thereafter the  meeting became very productive. This made me think on how we under estimate the value of humour in day to day management. We focus on lot of soft skills but never on building humour as one of the skills.

Humor on self

Early in my career, I had the reputation of having a serious and poker face but people who are/were close to me know that I can be comical and witty. My subordinates swear that some of the decisions taken by me are a bundle of Jokes. Did you laugh? I did not! Jokes apart, I worked hard to  change people’s perception about me.  Back in 2007 when we launched a new shared service center, each time we deployed a new function or services, I was asked to address people. I would start with an inspirational story to motivate new joiners’ and end my speech with a joke. By then I had created a new reputation of a being a story teller which is acknowledged by all and more so my by bosses (pun intended).

In one of the launch function we had, our world leaders addressing our staff and I was showered with some praise for all the hard work.  One of the leaders said “It is great to see people respect you so much”

Me: Yes John, they respect me so much that they have my photo on their wallet

John: Quizzical look

Me: Whenever they encounter a problem, they open their wallet and see my photo and get inspired and the problem disappears

John: Really?

Me: Yes, they see my photo and get convinced that no problem can be worse than me.

John laughs hysterically and says he should insist on having his direct reportee have his photo.

Humor on others-effective at times

Back in 1986 when I was working for a British company, all the staffs were invited for a Christmas dinner. Our marketing manager was very loud and had compulsive disorder of blowing his trumpet. As we were all junior to him, in line with (then) Indian culture, had to put up with his self-praise. As he was going on and on, we were saved by arrival of Vice President who after exchange of pleasantries settled down to join the discussion. But our marketing manager did not relent and went to say “without Amol (his name) nothing happens in the company. The Vice President saw our discomfort and immediately retorted “ Yes Amol! A pack of card is not complete without a joker”. We for the first time saw how a face shrinks in seconds. I was feeling bad for Amol but others had a different view. At times we need these types of witty comment to shut people off especially when they exceed their limits.

Years ago, I was running a brain storming session and my boss walked into the room. After sitting through the meeting for ten minutes and hearing everyone voice their opinion said sarcastically “ It seems Everyone Knows Everything”. There was silence in the room. I quietly said” Really I did not know that”. There were giggles and my boss left sooner.

Humor- to rekindle bad history

I have come across many jokes against Pakistanis and Jews and the hidden agenda is to keep the resentment alive.

Here is an example:

Q: How many Jews can fit in Volkswagen? (Wie viele Juden passen in einen Volkswagen?)

A: 506, six in the seats and 500 in the ashtrays ( 506, sechs aud die Sitze und in die Aschnbecher)

Holocaust is not funny even if it is mentioned in lighter vein. It is better to leave the baggage behind and move on with life.

Ridicule your boss

I asked one of my friends “Who was the gentleman I saw you with last night?” My friend replied “ that was not gentleman, that was my boss”

In another instance I heard someone referring his boss as an organ of elimination (three letter word followed by a four letter word ). This reminded me of an contemporary joke where different parts of the body argue about which of them is most important. The argument is finally won by exterior part, which points out that if it chooses to stop functioning, every body part shuts down. So punch line boss is A  Hole.

The reason I mention here more of defensive and pre-emptive move.

Ridicule others- See yourself in the mirror

We easily start making fun of other people. In fact, it could be the only way you’re most likely to make a joke. Ridicule, teasing, and sarcasm can be aggressive and downright mean, and following up such statements with “just kidding” or “just a joke” doesn’t soften the blow. Be aware! This is a tough type of humour for most people to relate to, especially when it’s your go-to method of cracking a joke. Before ridiculing others, just reflect(sic) by looking yourself in the mirror.



Humour is needed to keep our spirits high. But it needs to be appropriate and timely. Maybe you can dig deep and find a way to be funny that isn’t done at someone else’s expense? But surely these skills need to be developed to be effective socially.

With those humorous thought, I bid good bye with my usual signature Life is Beautiful.  I wish a great thanks giving week to all my American friends.


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