Saturday Morning Rounds March 7, 2020 - Humor is a negotiation superpower

Posted by BossB, MD on March 7, 2020
BossB, MD

What we're reading

It's been a rough couple of weeks for the world, and for America especially depending on your politics.

So, for the next week or two we're gonna take a break from our regularly scheduled programming of somewhat serious topics to share a selection of lighthearted and uplifting videos that celebrate Women's History Month! They may be a little more NSFW than you're used to from us, so we recommend headphones if you're around others, or skipping them entirely if you're easily offended. Here's the first:

A Toast to Women Throughout History - Drunk History

Who we're following

On the subject of all things hilarious, one of our favorite Twitter follows is an anonymous parody account - Blair Waldorf, MD (@Jack_and_Diet).

Follow her if you're into hot takes, living vicariously through what sound like a lot of fun yet professionally questionable adventures, cat pictures, and general hilarity/sass.

BBMD tip of the week

Humor isn't just for taking a break or finding a silver lining when things look grim - it is also a negotiation super-power.

See, the #1 emotion we want to avoid during any negotiation - in both ourselves and our counterpart - is defensiveness.

Which can be especially hard to do when things get tense, when subjects get charged, and when a negotiation starts to feel like "me vs them" or a zero-sum game. 

That's where humor comes in. 

See, injecting some humor into a conversation does a few things. It:

  • Humanizes yourself and your counterpart
  • Communicates subtly that you're still engaged in seeking a symbiotic solution
  • Assures your counterpart that there's still goodwill between you
  • Creates space for solutions to be found

So, when you sense tension and negative emotions starting to rise and the emotional resonance with your counterpart starting to dip, here's what you can do:

  • Take a moment - To center your attention on the other person and empathize with how they might be feeling - most people don't like tension & conflict, so if you're feeling some of that they likely are too
  • Assume best intent - Think to yourself "how could an intelligent & loving person come to their conclusion?"
  • Look for an opening - We aren't stand-up comedians or improv comedy instructors, so we can't really teach you "how to be funny." What we do know, however, is that 80% of injecting humor and levity into a conversation is simply awareness - actively looking for an opportunity to do so. Make sure you're laughing at the situation or yourself though, never your counterpart.

As with many things that we teach here at BBMD, practice makes perfect. And if you want to know one of the single most high-impact ways to level up your overall communication abilities and learn to inject humor into conversations (other than taking our curriculum, of course), here it is:

Take an improv comedy class

No, seriously. We mean it. Improv comedy is one of the most effective ways to learn how to listen, how to make others look good in conversation, and how to sensitize yourself to the subtle openings that are constantly being created during any interaction. These classes are offered in most cities of any appreciable size, and we can't recommend taking one enough. It's not just about how to be funny - it's legitimately one of the best tools available to you to actually improve your communication skills in practice rather than just in theory.

Quote we're contemplating

"A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing." – Laura Ingalls Wilder

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PPS - As always, please let us know your requests and suggestions by replying to this email (we read 'em all) or getting at us via Twitter. Which section above is your favorite? What do you want more or less of? Just send a tweet to @BossB_MD and put #SaturdayMorningRounds in there so we can find it.

Have a wonderful weekend, y'all!