Jon talks to comedian and author Paul Boross about his latest book, Humourology, and why everyone, especially business leaders, would benefit a little bit from seeing the funny side.
We join the conversation as Paul gives us a few stats.
Paul Boross: Leaders with even a bit of a sense of humor are viewed as 27% more motivating and admired than those who don’t use humor. And their teams are 15% more engaged, and more than twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge.
So it is important that we understand how important humor and laughter is as a social currency, if you like. It’s a bond. It’s a gift that’s meant to be shared. I mean, when we can laugh together, that means we share values, and we share life experiences. And I suppose, hopes and dreams as well.
It’s all about connection. Really laughing together creates that connection that can last a lifetime, but also increase a business’s ability to connect, whether internally or externally.
Jon Kennard: So how would it impact your success at work, and in life? You gave me a stat already about the difference it makes when leaders act with humor, or use humor, but how else can can it impact your success positively?
PB: I suppose every decision we make is a compromise. And in the end, whatever we’re doing in business, we choose with our hearts not our minds.
So being able to make a connection – and connection is the crux of every business – with another person is the essence of your success as a business. It’s easy for any business to think that their success is because of their knowledge or their skill. But your business instincts are not about everything you can achieve by yourself.
Everything you do professionally, whether you like it or not, is about how you make a human connection.
Now that can be how you employ people. [There’s] some very interesting social science out there about how people choose people to work in their companies. You know, they follow people’s CVs, and they predict this CV is the best CV for the job, but almost never does the CV follow because once you meet people, and once you connect with people, it’s the human connection, that makes us actually bond with people and override that pure CV-based decision.
And that’s, I think, why it’s so important that people understand that using humor – and by humor, I mean lightness of touch, the ability to bond, the ability to connect – is so important to every business and I think it’s something that gets put to one side rather a lot. These days, people are looking at the bottom line. And I think that we need to put a punch line back into the bottom line.
JK: I’ve just been thinking about this last question actually, which is about…like you would any other skill, practicing it and honing it, I always think that with comedy, it has to be inherent. You have to have funny bones, or it has to be something that that you’re born with, just a natural talent.
And clearly, like any skill, it’s something that you can practice and work on, like, stand up comedians would practice or work on their set. You probably don’t want a leader who’s really good at slapstick, for example, but how can we hone humor as a skill?
PB: It depends on on what you’re calling humor. We don’t really want leaders to all be like David Brent – funny for the wrong reasons. Good humor is about confidence. It’s about attitude. It’s about belief systems. And when I talk about those things, if you’re going to follow somebody, you’re going to follow somebody because they have a natural confidence, they have that ability to connect.
My personal belief as a humor apologist is that I believe that everybody can be funny. Everybody can make others laugh…
For the full conversation, listen above.
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