Who doesn’t love a good joke? Sometimes the funniest ones are only funny to a handful of people -- an "inside" joke. Mingling your way through a crowd, shaking hands, meeting, greeting and getting to know new people. Good for business, right? Absolutely. And then an inimitable opportunity presents itself. The "inside joke" sparks laughter only among those who are “in” on the joke, perhaps even to the consternation of others. Inside jokes demonstrate that you and the others engaged are recalling something you’ve already shared.
Inside jokes identify you and the others involved as being on a separate, and higher plane of camaraderie, one not yet enjoyed or even understood by the others. It reveals a familiarity and a bond between you that the others don’t share. We could probably each recall at least one memory of sharing an inside joke. I know I sure can. Not only can I remember a time and place, but more affectionately, I can recall the people with whom I’ve shared inside jokes. While they may be silly and even insignificant in nature, they have the potential to promote and progress a relationship toward an even closer bond with each chuckle or peal of laughter.
The Humor of Seriousness
With all due attention to business etiquette, it is also important to foster an atmosphere of relaxed communication with others, especially in the earliest stages of a professional relationship. Failing to do so can be costly in the way of lost opportunities that might have been generated by something as simple as a smile or a laugh. No extra cost or effort at all. Consider how many people you encounter in a day who fail to offer a simple smile. Don’t make the mistake of being one of them. It is sadly humorous to contemplate such needlessly missed opportunities.
The Seriousness of Humor
I’m not suggesting business schools teach standup comedy, but humor can open the door for serious business, whether directly because of it or by referral to others. Why is that? Let’s call it the “likeability” factor. It distinguishes you, sets you apart from others and in a business context, from your competition. How often do you like to be around others with whom you share that type of camaraderie where humor freely flows versus those with whom there is none? The thing about relationships, meaningful ones, is that they have established various levels of emotional bonds. Humor, in all seriousness, is one of those factors that help to achieve that bond, furthering the relationship.
While humor is no substitute for substance, you can use humor to build camaraderie and establish deeper bonds with those you meet. Focus on establishing an “inside joke” rapport. It’s not about the punch line. It’s about the bottom line.
Mike Muhney in a recognized expert in the field of relationship management. He is the co-founder and co-inventor of ACT!, the software product that created the entire Contact Management software category and is acknowledged as the catalyst that started the entire CRM (Customer Relationship Management) industry. Today, he is the CEO and co-founder of VIPorbit Software, creator of the Mobile Relationship Management category for users of smartphones and tablets, beginning with the iPhone and iPad. VIPorbit provides full-featured, affordable solutions to today’s mobile device user. VIPorbit can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store or www.viporbit.com.