If you lead teams, coach, educate or speak to groups, try telling a humorous story. It captures interest and helps people remember important points. Best mistakes stories, in particular, are great for teaching safety awareness and problems to avoid. They also build rapport by helping you appear more “human” to your listeners.
Think of a time in your life where a mishap befell you, where an embarrassing thing occurred, where you made a mistake, you had an accident, something bizarre happened to you; maybe it seemed hard at the time but later you laughed at it. There is an old saying that goes, “Some day we will look back at all this and laugh.” I like to say, “Why wait?” Check out this short video below for quick tips on adding humorous stories to your repertoire.
As the old saying goes: Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused. In fact, a great formula for humor is: Humor = Embarrassment + Time. With that in mind, think of a story from your life that you can now laugh at. Maybe you couldn’t laugh in the moment, but now you can. It could be something small.
For example, back in the day of pagers, a woman told me that she went to a realtor’s conference because she wanted to see what it would be like to be a realtor. During the conference she noticed that everyone had pagers. At lunch she went home and put her garage door opener on her belt. When she went back to the conference, a guy walked up to her and said, “Nice garage door opener you’ve got there.”
Another example was a woman who went to the store…click here for more
She was in line with her items, but one item didn’t have a price on it. The cashier got on the microphone and announced “Price check needed on aisle 13 for Tampax, super size.”
The employee at the back of the store instead heard “thumbtacks,” so he got back on the microphone and said, “Do you want the kind you push in with your thumb or the kind you pound in with the hammer?”
Another example is when I was doing a series of presentations in Montana. I had gone for a run in the morning in Great Falls. When I got back to my rental car I realized that the key to my car was no longer in my waist belt. Clearly, it had fallen out in the grass and the grass was 3 inches tall. I looked but I couldn’t find it. My purse, all my money, everything was in the rental car. I had to get on a plane in 3 hours.
There were no cell phones in those days, only pay phones. And, there were only two people in the park. There was a little old man feeding the pigeons, and a guy, about 18 years old, smoking a cigarette, leaning against a tree. He had a Mohawk that was dyed green, and had the words “Pig Killers” tattooed on his head. I went to talk to the old man.
I said, “Do you have a quarter that I could use for the phone?
He said “Yes” and he gave me a quarter and I called the rental car company.
I said, “Look, I lost the key and I gotta get into my car and get to the airport.”
The rental agent says, “Sorry honey, we just don’t have a spare key for that car so we’re going have to send the locksmith on down there, but he shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours. You just hold tight.”
Then, she hangs up on me!
The old man didn’t have another quarter. I started to panic. I didn’t know how I was going to get back to my hotel to pack, check out and get to the airport in time. I took in a few deep breaths to calm myself down and wondered if one day I could look back on this and laugh. And if I did laugh what would help me get out of this? That gave me an idea which I acted upon.
I went up to the guy smoking the cigarette and I said, “I’ll give you $20 if you’ll break into my car.”
He says, “Fer sure.”
In fact, he has the exact implement for the occasion. He broke into my car in 2 seconds. I grabbed my purse, I gave him $30 instead and as he said, “I like doing it this way better.” I’m hoping I inspired him towards a career as a locksmith.
I call a cab and get back to the hotel. I hurriedly pack and take a cab to the airport. I make it to my plane with seconds to spare. When I arrive in my destination I call the rental car company and tell them where they can find their car.
What’s a mishap, embarrassing situation or accident that you can now look back on and now laugh at? It could be the first time you ever did something. Firsts are usually full of mishaps – your first kiss, first time driving, first day on the job. I could be the time you spilled the red wine all over the lady in the white cashmere sweater. Maybe it was the time you were caught lip-syncing Elvis. Or maybe it was the time that your hair piece fell off, or your falsie fell out, or your dress was see through under bright lights. Maybe you were caught telling a lie.
Write it out and tell it at your next social event. People love to hear embarrassing incident stories. And, according to neuroscientists, laughing about mishaps helps you extract the learning and release any trauma involved with the incident. It helps you let go and move on.
Then, the next time you are in the middle of a problem situation ask yourself “Can I look back on this and laugh one day? And if so, what would be a fun ending? That might inspire a great solution.”
When you bring your playful spirit to work it makes a huge difference for your colleagues and those you serve. It also lowers YOUR stress and increases daily enjoyment of your work. What are your tips, insights and questions about humorous stories?
The Power of Laughter (ebook and MP3): Get more examples of humorous stories. Laughter increases learning ability, camaraderie and engagement. Check out this entertaining ebook & MP3 program: http://carlarieger.com/store/store-home/the-power-of-laughter/