Make them laugh
Whether face to face, in your blog or through your tweets, whoever the audience, whatever the topic it helps if you can make them laugh. Humour can defuse a tense situation and it’s hard to stay angry if you’re smiling. People like a laugh and they like people who make them laugh. But it’s risky. Service cuts and redundancies are no laughing matter so your joke may be seen as flippant and be taken to show you neither understand the implications for your audience nor care. Three things to remember first it’s not how funny the joke is it’s how appropriate it is. Second, making a joke at your own expense shows you have a sense of humour at someone else’s expense shows you are insensitive. Third, people laugh at the bosses jokes even if they are not funny ( but only face to face
When it goes horribly wrong, not only don’t they laugh but they get upset, saying it was only a joke is not a good defence. To then accuse the offended person of lacking a sense of humour just proves how insensitive you are.
Those guilty of sexist ,racist and homophobic remarks often claim they were only joking and say the person who complains is being” over sensitive” and even” other people thought it was funny”. As someone who has chaired many disciplinary hearing if that’s your defence expect the worst.
The advice to managers is clear don’t make inappropriate jokes, only tell funny stories at your own expense and if you upset some of your audience apologise immediately. Otherwise you risk being considered a bit of a comedian and not a very funny one at that.
Blair Mcpherson author and commentator on the public sector www.blairmcpherson.co.uk