According to the dictionary, humor is defined as a “condition of the mind, mental state, disposition, temperament or feeling.” In other words, humor can be good or bad; however, there is no doubt that an attitude of seeing life with good humor helps us in our everyday routines. Good humor helps family life, love life and professional life.
Everyone likes to say that they have a good sense of humor, that they never have a rough moment or that they are calm in any situation because these are the true traits of someone who is pleasant, positive and optimistic. However, it’s during the chaotic moments and arguments that we have a real opportunity to test our good humor, using it to calm tension and preventing fights or unnecessary problems.
Here are a few pointers on how to use humor as a tool to avoid an argument:
Understand your purpose. Using humor does not mean making a joke that diminishes another person. The true purpose of humor is to alleviate tension and help people see situations from different perspectives. By doing this, we often see how ridiculous and contradictory life can sometimes be. Even when the topic is more serious, humor is a great tool to limit emotional stress and prevent worse fights.
Exercise common sense. Some situations don’t require the use of humor. If used in the wrong way, humor can elevate tension and cause even more problems. Consider these questions:
• Does this person respond well to humor? Not everyone appreciates a little joke here and there. The person might think that you’re not taking the situation seriously or that you’re being disrespectful.
• Is this person critical and/or sensitive? If so, just be respectful and do not argue. Respond calmly, and try not to complicate things even more.
• Is humor appropriate for this circumstance? Be especially respectful of the other person’s beliefs and convictions.
• How much humor should I use? If you’re at work, be careful to remain professional. If you’re at home, be careful not to hurt feelings.
Use humor with respect -- in the right moment and in the right way. Experiment to see which situations are right for the use of humor. You will start to find situations where it works. Just remember to be respectful.
How to use humor. Use the appropriate perspective in your comments. If the problem is your fault, you can make a small joke taking responsibility for it. After all, you shouldn’t take your own mistakes too seriously. Always be careful with others’ feelings. For example, the other day, I saw a woman who felt horrible because she had accidentally burned dinner. Her husband said to her, “Honey, with all your beauty, I’m sure the pans were embarrassed and hid.” It was a simple comment that made his wife feel better, and the woman was able to laugh about the situation.
Breaking the ice. This can become necessary when a situation gets tense and a comment could alleviate the tension. This happened to me during a meeting at work. During a tense moment, a person who was entering the room noticed the situation and began singing a funny song in an even funnier voice. Everyone laughed. The environment instantaneously improved and, suddenly but not coincidentally, we resolved the problem without the tension.
Seriously discuss the problem once everyone has calmed down. Let’s say the situation really does need a serious discussion. Waiting for everyone to calm down in order to resolve the problem is the best option. If you do use humor, show that you are concerned and want to solve the issue. When necessary, clarify that you used humor to ease the tension and not to avoid a discussion. In marriage, remember a time when you were both used to laughing about life and went about solving problems in good humor, or remember a funny movie that depicted a similar situation.
Having a sense of humor does not mean you have to go around making jokes 24 hours a day. It means that you have the patience to see both sides the best you can in order to solve problems without unnecessary stress or fighting. In many situations, it’s not so much what you say, but what you do. Even just a funny expression may be enough to ease the tension between a couple or in a group.
Be cautious using sarcasm. It is very different from humor. Laughing is still the best remedy.