Humor can tear down walls when properly wielded and build walls and destroy relationships when improperly handled.
A cashier dug up some coupons to give me a deep discount after bantering some funny comments back and forth. In another case, after presenting a briefing and cracking a joke, the General winced, and the joke fell flat. In the end, it worked out for the best, retelling the story was far better than the joke.
How do you use humor throughout your day? Are you able to handle a poke to the ribs or an ice cube down the back before the morning cup of coffee, or would this derail your day?
How do you determine who is willing to joke around? When has your process backfired?
What subjects are off limits and earn a deflecting joke when asked? Regardless if harm was intended, I use humor to change the subject or give a half answer, when the subject hits too close to home.
How have you used humor to inflict pain? When do you intentionally use words to cut deeply, to shut someone down or belittle them? Why have you needed to refine this tactic? How does this tactic influence how you engage with others? When was it used unintentionally?
Every teen movie includes the token character that would get beat up if it wasn't for his ability to make the right people laugh. How have you used humor to de-escalate a situation or develop camaraderie?
A Navy buddy, from New York, told me early on in our friendship that I would do fine in jail. He said I would be protected like a little brother because I can make people feel good and laugh. I think this is comforting news, but I am not in any hurry to prove him right.
Bob Hope captured the effects of humor well, when he said, "I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful."
Just as any other tool in the toolbox, humor is powerful. The craftsman cares about the material she is working with and seeks to enhance the inherent beauty. May you handle this instrument skillfully, cutting deeply when essential, but using primarily for the purpose of building someone beautiful.