Use Humor to Avoid a Conflict

avoid a conflict

Before I criticize someone, I walk a mile in their moccasins. That way, if they get mad, they’re a mile away and barefoot.  

If you use humor in the right way at the right time – you CAN diffuse a conflict. Everyday life is full of great opportunities to disarm negativity, ease a tense situation, and help people find a win-win solution more quickly…using a bit of light-heartedness.


There are 3 things you need to have in place:

  1. The intention to use humor to clear negativity [not reinforce it]
  2. A playful response that pokes fun at the situation [rather than people]
  3. An adventurous spirit and a willingness to learn as you go


Below are some examples…

Paint Department

I client of mine was working at a major home improvement store in the paint department.  When customers have complaints, paint is the last place you want to be, since they usually discover a problem after they have already spread it on their wall.  And special colors are not accepted for return.  One customer got so upset at the man that he said, “You can take this paint and shove it up your ass!”  The man responded, “I’m sorry sir, you’re the third person to say that today so I’m all full of paint, but I’ll be open for more tomorrow.”  The customer laughed and they were able to move on. (Stevie Ray)

Time Deadline

Our manager was pushing the IT technician to fix a huge computer breakdown in under half a day.  The technician was getting frustrated at the unreasonable request, but rather than push back with resistance, he said, “Actually, I only need two hours.  The other two I’ll be using to cure world hunger.”  They both laughed and the manager mellowed out. (Linda Johnson)

Smaller Budget

A client kept returning our budget proposal saying it needed to be smaller.  No matter how much trimming we did, the client kept pushing for “Smaller, smaller!”  I finally took the proposal to a copier and had it reduced to two inches in size.  I sent it to the client and said, “This is about as small as I can make it.  Tell me what you think.” He called me saying it got a huge laugh in his office and that he would now accept the proposal as soon as he could find his magnifying glass. (Frank Friedman)

Super Size Urn

A funeral director was helping a grieving widow choose an urn for her husband’s ashes. Her husband was a man who enjoyed the finer things in life; he had a hearty build; a rotund, Santa-like exterior. The funeral director was trying to find a diplomatic way to tell her that the urn size should be extra-large. When she inquired as to the selection available, he simply said small, medium, large and Super Size. She looked up and there was a brief pause. Not knowing what to do, he said….”and today Super Size is only fifty cents more”.  She replied sadly, “Wilbur always went for Super Size.” There was another pause – and then they both laughed. She later told him that little encounter really helped her release the stress of the situation. (Vanessa Miller)

Cuban Missile Crisis

This is a true story from the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s. There were American and Soviet delegates meeting to discuss this very intense situation. Here’s a clip from one of Carla Rieger’s speaking engagements describing the incident.




The Power of Laughter book — on special! 

Right now you can get a copy of my book   The Power of Laughter book. It’s on special for a limited time.  Discover your humor style, how to marry work and play, mistakes to avoid, and much more!



Need a speaker for an upcoming meeting, webinar or podcast? Carla will both entertain and educate your group on how to be your best and most light-hearted self when navigating challenges. More info HERE.