It’s not always appropriate to use humour as a break state.There are times when it may feel as if the best thing you could do right now is to make a client laugh yet there are times when you shouldn’t do it.

The number one reason why we would not use humour is that we’re uncomfortable with what they’re talking about. I’m appealing more so to our new practitioners who have not quite got their teeth into what it’s like to sit back and listen to someone as they share their ‘stuff’ and for those of you who get people coming to you with their troubles when sometimes it’s tough to listen to. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to what people are saying and we feel uncomfortable because their problem is clearly making them uncomfortable and so we just want to move away from that discomfort. 

We want to help them move away from that discomfort and so we want to crack the story with a one-liner that’s going to instantly change the mood but if someone needs you to hear them out at that moment the best thing you can do is to sit back and listen. Allow them to share what they need to share whilst you are fully present.

They’re not necessarily asking you for a solution. They’re not necessarily asking you for comfort. They may simply need someone to listen and to be there with them at that moment in time whilst they share their story. When they get to the end of sharing their story and that tension has lifted from the atmosphere then you can start thinking about bringing some humour gently into it – but go gently!

No matter what context you are in whether you are a therapist, a leader, a manager or just a good friend, don’t use humour if it is going to cause humiliation toward the person. 

In NLP, we often use reframing. A reframe is when you have a situation such as a particular environment or problem and you change one of them. You either take the problem and stick it in a new environment or you keep the same environment and you put something else different in it which suddenly makes the problem not seem a problem anymore. That is the process of reframing.

Reframing can occur when someone makes a joke. A joke is when you think something is going in one direction and it goes off in a completely random different direction and it’s the surprise of how the story suddenly twisted that makes it funny. All jokes are reframes too. 

Have you ever been in a negative state, such as anger and then somebody makes you laugh? It’s almost annoying at how swiftly and effectively it obliterates that anger so that you cannot be angry anymore.

Once upon a time I was in the middle of an argument with my then-boyfriend and I was simultaneously making a smoothie, we all know where this story is going! I chucked all of the fruit into this smoothie and I poured in some milk and we were still arguing. I wasn’t concentrating properly and I hit the blender button and everything went up in my face and I took my glasses off and had eye holes. The rest of me was covered in a pink fruit smoothie. It was very funny. I was also incredibly annoyed because I was trying so hard to argue. It just made the argument not seem worthwhile or valid.

Laughter can jolt us out of very negative states and we can use it to our advantage with people that we are interacting with.

It’s scientifically proven that people who laugh more tend to be healthier, tend to get better quicker from illness and/or tend to suffer from mental health issues far less.

My challenge to you throughout the next few weeks is to put smiles on other people’s faces and notice what that does for you. Report back by leaving me a comment in the comments section down below. Let me know what happened to you when you made somebody else smile and when you allowed things to be funny. If you’ve ever had a situation where someone that you work with or maybe your child did something that should have warranted a stern look but you also know there’s an opportunity to turn that into a smile notice what that does to the situation to react with humour instead. You can’t do that all the time but every now and it rehumanizes you. It makes you seem much more comfortable and approachable as a human being.

That might mean the world to someone in that particular moment.