।। Mahbubul Shourav ।।
As a working professional, entrepreneur, social worker, and a former student of communications, practicing emotional intelligence and communicating effectively with multiple stakeholders is part of my everyday life. While studying communications at school, I learnt how ‘sense of humour’ can be used as one of the most effective communication tools to break out the ice to connect with anyone. However, if the other person is not on the same page, or the primary communicator “crosses the limit”, it can be embarrassing or disastrous-take Will Smith-Chris Rock’s slap incident on the 94th Academy Awards as a glaring example.
Emphasising the importance of ‘sense of humour, Chris Anderson in his amazing book ‘Ted Talks’ said, ‘the evolutionary purpose of laughter is to create social bonding, it’s a fantastic tool for building connections’. I one hundred per cent agree with that, and since I started practicing ‘sense of humour’ at personal, professional, and social platforms coming out of my comfort zone, while talking at a conference or while doing interpersonal communication, I have been getting terrific feedback. However, despite getting much positive response, I also found few people got offended by my jokes. This caught my attention and led me to reconsider my practice of ‘sense of humour’.
Apart from my professional life, I also have a personal life with family, friends and relatives, and I can use my sense of humour with them without hesitation. Besides, I also have a social life where I mingle with people in my community while playing sports, attending at cultural events, and other community programmes. I found that using sense of humour effectively as a communication tool with all those three groups-personal, social, and professional can be very challenging and can get overwhelming as I have to play different roles at different times with so many people as a communications practitioner.
To give few examples, I will share few instances from my life. As a working professional, having typical five days insane work schedule, I remain busy all day, leading a team, solving problems, doing trainings, attending meetings and conferences etc. When I come back at late night exhausted, instead of watching or reading any serious news or social media content, I prefer talking or chatting to my family or close friends to make relax my brain. While doing that, I do not need to be very concerned about any joke I make with them and vice versa, which I found very helpful for my mental health.
On the other hand, while communicating with various stakeholders at work, I always have to be very cautious practicing ‘sense of humour’ as a communication tool, keeping the place, people, and platform in mind. The most challenging thing I found while trying to use ‘sense of humour’ is when I communicate with the people who are bonded with me by social relationship. For instance, I have two roommates who have entirely different characteristics from each other. Both of them have become part of my social life as we live under the same roof, share a kitchen and a washroom. We have a social media group of three people for instant message sharing for convenient communication. They perceive my messages differently when I make any joke or share any content.
Recently, I tried using ‘sense of humour’ in a social media group chat where the group members play sports together, fun loving, and we know each other for quite a long time. “Knowing” read assuming one of the members as fun loving, I made a joke as metaphor that most group members found as hilarious while the person I made fun of got offended and left the group! I immediately apologised to him and brought him back to the group but that made me feel very embarrassed.
To conclude, I think using a sense of humour is undoubtedly an effective communication tool, concomitantly, this can be very tricky and sensitive. Effective communication in our everyday life is always challenging and this comes with a lot of practice. So, we have to be very cautious while using that communication tool to avoid any consequences for better connections.
The writer is the CEO of Vancouver Professional Business Communications (VPBC), Communications Coordinator at the United Nations Association of Canada (UNAC) Victoria branch, British Columbia, Canada, Head of News at ‘Edu First Education Consultancy Canada’, Corporate Store Manager at BELL Canada, Young Professional Member of the Canadian International Council (CIC), South Asia Foundation (SAF) scholar, and alumni at the Royal Roads University, MAIIC (Masters in Intercultural and International Communications). Email: [email protected], [email protected]