4 Ways To Inject Humor Into Difficult Conversations

Laughter Really is Medicinal!

Communication is a word we hear so often - lack of good communication is to blame for many issues - in our businesses, in our country, and, in our homes.

Obviously, one blog isn’t going to fix that but let’s zero in on one piece of it to contemplate.

When something is bothering us about our partner we make choices about how we are going to deal with it:

• Put up with it (until it becomes too frustrating)

• Say something sarcastic

• Get even

• Ask to talk

• Tell our partner what to do differently

• Emotionally withdraw

• Get angry

• Tell a friend

Giving each other honest feedback can be really hard to do. I remember being sick to my stomach at “annual review” time when I was first out in the work force. We can feel vulnerable both when we are receiving feedback and when we want to give it. Both present potential for rejection and pain.

Equipping people, couples, with tools for great communication is one of my passions. Today let’s think about how to bring humor in to situations that may feel anything but funny.

Part of the stress in difficult conversations is that the stakes feel high. When we insert humor, correctly, it can bring down the sense of impending doom and remind you both that you are dealing with an issue, not your whole relationship.

This can be tricky. I’m not talking about humor that makes fun of anyone. Sarcasm rarely counts as humor. Sometimes light self-deprecating humor is ok but this can be dangerous long-term.

So, how can we inject humor?

1. Lead in to the need to talk with something silly. 

This tells your partner that the sky is not falling, you just need to talk about something. E.g. ‘And now, since our day’s been so bland, let’s spice it up by talking about something that’s bothering me.”

2. Name the problem that you need to deal with. 

A silly name is great. This separates the issue from the person and from the relationship. E.g. Let’s say that the behavior of coming home late for supper without communicating is the issue. When that happens we can say “Josephina” showed up again. ‘Can we please let Josephina know how her behavior impacts the rest of us?’ This naming of a behavior or pattern is best done together during a talk about the issue.

It becomes a light-hearted way of being able to acknowledge the problem behavior that either partner can reference. The owner of the problem can use it: “I’m sorry that Josephina showed

up again today. She knows that this is really frustrating and is going to work really hard to get home on time or at least call if she can’t.”

The other partner can use it: “It feels like Josephina just arrived for supper.”

This approach is not about letting someone off the hook. It is about reminding ourselves that the problem is not the relationship. It is just a piece of it and can be treated separately.

3. Name the need for a debrief or feedback time.

One I’ve used lately is “The Halftime Report” (I do live in Texas after all). “It’s time for the half-time report” means it’s time to sit down and evaluate some of the strategies and plays and see what needs to be different moving forward.

4. Use silly props!

Okay, this one is only for the brave - have some props for these conversations. You just can’t get too upset talking to someone with silly glasses and a fake mustache!

In general, finding ways to talk about hard stuff in easier ways just helps everyone. When we send signals to each other and ourselves that we can laugh while talking something through we keep our defenses down and are able to hear each other better.

Your unique ways to inject humor will be a gift to your relationship.

Until next time,

Laugh lots and love well!

Marilyn

The Luv Life Coach

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