man and healthy woman looking at each other on coffee table

Adding a Human Touch to Change- Is Humor always the best idea?

A personal reflection Inspired by “Baby Reindeer”

I recently watched “Baby Reindeer,” a show that poignantly explores the impact of mental health. One particular moment resonated deeply with me. Martha asks a Donny to hang her curtains, expecting a response that would validate her feelings towards him or not. Instead, Donny, who could have set clear boundaries, resorts to humor. This humorous deflection not only avoids the difficult topic at hand but also leads to false expectations, exacerbating the situation.

This scene made me reflect on my experiences during critical change and transformation processes. Informal conversations during these times often get derailed by humor, especially when a conversation threatens to become sensitive. Humor, while valuable for diffusing tension, can sometimes shut down essential dialogue, preventing the expression of thoughts, frustrations, and feelings. This suppression can lead to misunderstandings, anger, and increased stress.

Have you ever felt shut down by humor when trying to make a crucial point? It can be incredibly frustrating. Humor can make it tough to restart a difficult conversation, as it often labels the person trying to steer the discussion back to seriousness as a mood killer. This dynamic is especially prevalent in organizational settings, where the stakes are high, and the pressure to maintain harmony can overshadow the need for tough dialogue.

My Own Use of Humor:
I must confess that I have often used humor to de-escalate tough situations. In many instances, humor is the most effective method to diffuse tension and create a more relaxed atmosphere. However, I recognize that if humor is used to sideline someone’s need to express their genuine concerns, it can be counterproductive.

A Commitment to Better Conversations:
After watching “Baby Reindeer,” I have made a personal commitment to change how I use humor in my interactions. If I find myself using humor to de-escalate a situation during a workshop or at work, I will make a conscious effort to follow up with a one-on-one conversation. This approach ensures that the person gets the candid chat they wanted, allowing their thoughts and feelings to be heard and addressed.

Moving Forward:
In our journey towards effective change and transformation, we must acknowledge the power and pitfalls of humor. By being mindful of when and how we use humor, we can ensure it serves to enhance, rather than hinder, our communication. Let’s strive to create an environment where critical conversations are not avoided but welcomed, and where every voice can be heard and respected.

Let’s embrace change with energy, humor, and humanity, but never at the cost of essential dialogue.