Having a good sense of humor – whether you are creating the laughter or simply enjoying it – is essential to getting people to know, like, and trust you and establishing an attractive brand.
Ask yourself, who are you drawn to – someone who expresses his or her sense of humor on a consistent basis or the person who makes every moment ultra-serious? Of course, these are two extremes. Nevertheless, if you had to lean one way or another, which would it be? If you consider this question carefully, you would probably conclude that you would be much more comfortable associating with the person with a sense of humor.
Laughter, which is the productive result of humor, is the universal language. It is something that every culture enjoys – there has never been (and likely never will be) a society that does not embrace a good chuckle. It is something that people of all ages take pleasure in – from tiny babies to those on their deathbeds. It transcends economic status – the rich, the poor, and everyone in between enjoy a good laugh (although maybe not at the same things).
The enjoyment of laughter is one quality that you have in common with everyone on the planet. As such, it would make sense that, all things being equal, you would opt to associate with the individual who demonstrates a good sense of humor over someone who does not. Thus, humor is important to building a network (and personal brand).
Do we have to be so serious?
I realize that you may have heard or read a statement like, “There is no place in business for humor.” I know I have.
Unfortunately, far too often we buy into it. Think about it. You are one person at home – fun loving, with a wide-ranging sense of humor. Then everyone expects you to be someone else when the workday begins – stoic and ever serious.
Much is wrong with this mindset. Certainly, this attitude strips a degree of enjoyment out of what amounts to the lion’s share of our day. More importantly, this is counterproductive to building strong networking relationships.
Yes, there is the risk that humor will serve to tarnish your image of being mature and professional. Additionally, there is humor that is simply not in good taste. Thus, in today’s politically correct environment you need to be careful with when and how you employ humor. This does not mean that we need to abandon it altogether, however.
You do not need a stage or everyone’s focus to direct attention to an ironic situation (such as a boss who clamors for more productivity but cannot help but take a mid-afternoon nap). You can also ease the stress of a generally tension-filled business environment by simply throwing out an off-handed comment. These humoristic remarks need only generate a mere smile and a chuckle. It can be nothing more than a comment about the weather, the local favorite sports team or the quality of office coffee.
Create humor Or just laugh
On the other hand, to enhance your personal brand you do not necessarily need to be the source of the levity. You can add to the lightness of the moment by laughing at the humor of others or acknowledging them for their wit and comic relief.
Humor and laughter, as long as it is appropriately used, reminds others that you are human. It is something with which anyone can identify and it is something to which everyone is drawn. In short, humor helps you build know, like and trust. It is nearly impossible to dislike someone who has made us laugh or is genuinely laughing at something funny.
Frank Agin is the founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections. In addition, Frank is the author of Foundational Networking: Building Know, Like and Trust To Create A Lifetime of Extraordinary Success and the co-author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World’s Largest Professional Networking Website and The Champion: Finding the Most Valuable Person in Your Network.