Benefits of Humor in Persuasion
Humor has many benefits for communication and persuasion. Communication through humor is an important way to make stories more memorable, characters more compelling, and causes more accessible. Understanding and appreciating humor is a unique part of being human, and making people smile and laugh is a learnable skill. To truly understand the nature of humor empowers the individual to communicate strategically – to create messages that are “stickier,” or more memorable and persuasive. Persuasive communication involves getting attention, generating interest, creating a desire for change and encouraging action.
One thing that is commonly overlooked when attempting persuasion is a person’s mood. In a good mood, people are far more likely to listen and agree with what you are saying than if they were in a bad mood. If done properly, humor is an effective persuasive tool. Ambiguity, puns and comedic situations can make an ad memorable. People tend to remember things that make them smile, possibly leading to a purchase decision. For example, people are likely to remember a soft drink ad that has sketches of adorable polar bears drinking soft drinks while sliding down a mountain. Humor is one part of advertising messages, which usually include substantive messages, such as social acceptance, old-age security and family relationships.
Good moods tend to lower a person’s defenses, whereas bad moods raise defenses thereby making persuasion more difficult. Get someone in the right mood and they will be willing to do almost anything for you. When attempting persuasion, you should therefore always assess a person’s mood before trying to influence them in one direction or another. If a person is in a good mood, go ahead with your persuasion attempt or approach them during times when they are likely to be feeling happy. However, should a person be in a bad mood, do not attempt persuasion unless it is your only opportunity to do so. Instead, pick another day or try to change the mood of that person by telling them a joke or an uplifting story.
When you make someone laugh you cause that person to release endorphins which physically makes them feel good( ).If you can do this often enough, soon they will learn to associate you with a good feeling thereby making you a more likable person in their eyes. In terms of persuasion, humor is useful because it can quickly gain you attention, rapidly create rapport and make you and your message more memorable. In addition, it can also relieve tension, decrease a person’s stress levels and motivate them. Laughter makes people feel good and lowers their defenses. This makes them more receptive to your message.
When using humor to persuade, make sure that it is relevant to the conversation or topic. Use humor to introduce, summarize or highlight certain key points to give them added impact in the listener’s mind. Your humor should make a point or state a fact in a humorous way, as this will increase the likelihood of its acceptance by the listener. However, be careful when using humor, as people tend to resist humor if it is overused, irrelevant or think that you are purposely trying to be funny. Remember, you trying to change a person’s mood, not trying to impress them.
Some form of humor is used in almost half of all TV advertising, where it often contributes to very effective ads. Humor can make ads more enjoyable, involving, and memorable. However, if the humor distracts from branding and communication, it can impede the ad’s effectiveness. In addition, perceptions of humor are different around the world and across different audiences; this may limit the ability of a funny ad to be used across markets. If you can do this with a few humorous remarks stop and end there. Don’t overdo it otherwise your humor will lose its effectiveness.
Playful joking also increases the likelihood of financial concessions during a negotiation. Relaxing the other...
References: Fabio Sala, Laughing all the way to the bank, Harvard Business Review, September 2003, pp 16-17
R. W. Clouse and K. L. Spurgeon, Corporate Analysis of Humor, Psychology: A Journal of Human Behavior 32 (1995). pp 1-24
Bettinghaus, E. and Cody, M. (1994). Persuasive communication, Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace
Foot, H. (1997). 'Humor and laughter ', in O. Hargie (ed) The handbook of communication skills (2nd edn), London: Routledge
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