Welcome to this
issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback
Hone Your Sense of Humor
While being wheeled into the operating room after
being shot by a would-be assassin, the ever-persuasive President Ronald Reagan
got a chuckle when he wisecracked, "I hope the doctor is a Republican." We may
not all be so cool in a crisis, but we can all profit by not taking ourselves
Humor is an infinitely variable commodity, on the part of both the sender and
the receiver. Witness the range of comics from, say, The Three Stooges to Mort
Sahl or audiences as disparate as Shriners and anthropologists.
My suggestions for improving your sense of humor: First, find out what your
strong suit is, humor-wise. Ask a friend who'll be honest with you. Second,
research your audience. Find out who they are, what's made them laugh
previously. Third, work on your timing. Try out your best lines on your family,
friends, and associates. Fourth, if humor hasn't previously been in your
repertoire, proceed slowly. It's better to use humor sparingly than to be
remembered as a buffoon or insensitive.
Fifth, sprinkle your humor throughout your talk, not just at the beginning or
end. Sixth, make it relevant to the subject, not just a funny line you paste
onto your speech for laughs. And, last, remember that some of the best stories
are those you tell on yourself. A little mild self-deprecation can go a long way
toward making your audience feel at ease with you.
Such conversational first aid not only makes the other person or group more
persuadable, it helps you both keep your perspective. Humor not only can be an
icebreaker, but if the going is tough, to those in the trenches it can also be
an affirmation of dignity, a declaration of your collective faith in the
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