My love of comedy started when I was a child and I first watched The Young Ones and Blackadder. I didn't always understand the more grownup jokes, but enjoyed what I could understand. My tastes branched out over the years to a variety of different comedy styles, and I now enjoy a range from some of the world's most well known comedians to rather niche and unusual acts.
A few years back I attended a training event in the UK called Comedy in NLP, at which I learned a great deal and experienced how fun it could be to play up comedically. After the course I started writing down anything I could think of that I considered funny. I quickly realised that humour was all around me, especially in business.
Lately I have decided to get involved in stand-up comedy and comedy writing. I have had a lot of encouragement from my friends and colleagues in business, but also a bit of confusion. Do comedy and business mix? Is trying to fit both of these things together akin to selling guns in a Christian book shop? After giving this some thought I concluded that business and comedy have a lot in common, and that the skills and attitudes in comedy are not only compatible but also very useful in business.
Comedians tend to have light hearted attitudes toward their subject manner, even if their persona is to show discontent. Most people in business who have high levels of stress have far too rigid attitudes, make things more important than they are, and have too serious a manner about them. They mistake "taking things seriously" for "being serious", and mistake "being professional" for "being boring." People who bring a light-hearted attitude to their work tend to have much less stress, reduce stress of those around them, and get a lot more done.
There are many artificial methods out there for building rapport, most of which are over-complicated and mechanical. I like to keep things simple. Think about situations where you see people who truly have rapport with each other, such as guys hanging about in the pub after work - almost inevitably such situations involve humourous banter and gentle ribbing. The same kind of humourous banter builds rapport in a business environment, albeit usually with a little less colourful language and beverages.
Flexibility of State
Comedians move between different states of mind and body depending on what they are portraying in their set. A comedian might intentionally play confused during one piece of material, angrily rant during another piece, and then have a jovial manner about a third. In business, the ability to move intentionally between states can help people adapt to situations around them, and in times of difficulty to move from being worried and unhappy, to resourceful and focused.
Attention to Language
A comedian pays attention to peculiarities in language, and plays with words in order to create humour. Communication is one of the most important skills in most areas of business, and being able to analyse and understand peoples' use of language can help in a big way. Models such as NLP and Metaphors of Business are testament to this.
Looking at Thing Differently
A comedian looks at things in different ways, and applies thought from one subject to other unrelated subjects. When these observations are portrayed, it causes laughter in those who hadn't yet made such connections. Being successful in the workplace also involves being able to look at things differently, which assists problem solving and the ability to formulate new ideas.
I welcome any thoughts, comments, observations.
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