‘You don’t have to play sport to be an Australian, but you do have to have a sense of humour” says author Pete Crofts in his book How to use Humour in Business and Life. As an Australian I know they have many “winning ways” and I believe this is strongly linked to their good humoured view of the world. Is there a formula they and others use to aid their success ? Four of the so called “formulas for good humour” include exaggeration, understatement, saying the opposite, and unexpected punch lines. Across the ditch they use them a lot.

In exaggeration you just need to think BIG! The more outlandish and far fetched the better. Victor Borg was an expert at this for example, changing the old “once upon a time” to “ twice upon a time !” His unique communication style warmed hearts around the world.

Understatement is the opposite of the exaggerated comment, and downplays the situation. It is reflected beautifully in the following from Percy H Whiting, Author :- “Due to increased competition and a keen desire to remain in business we are asking that somewhere between starting time and quitting time and without infringing too much on the time devoted to lunch period, coffee breaks, rest period, storytelling, and ticket selling each employee endeavour to find some time he can set aside to be henceforth known as the work break!”

Reversal is saying the opposite. You end up with things like turning success into failure; big things become small; fast things become slow. An example? “Well … I know some companies have a 4 day week, but at my place they have a 4 week day!”

Unexpected punchlines are delighters as they end with a surprise element. A couple of sentences create the general scenario and then the finale is an incongruous thought or line like the following. “I don’t have big expectations really. All I want is to be so revered, so powerful and so important that if somebody yells hey… you… I don’t turn around to see who is calling!”

When we start to understand humour and its structure and function we can use it in business with ease. Since the advent of television business has had more of a focus on infotainment and entertainment. This all adds to the notion of “Business Show” and the idea of engendering high memorability in the eyes of your customer.

Author's Bio: 

Pat Armitstead, New Zealand’s leader in the Science of Positive Psychology and Humour in the Workplace has a CV that’s not to be laughed at! Included in her giggliography are some ground breaking achievements, testimony to her ability to successfully combine her business acumen, creativity, and wit.

Initially a Registered Nurse she worked for 34 years in Education Management and communication roles in the health sector and in business. In 1989 she founded her own Advertising Agency, Take One Productions and won 11 awards including the NSW Tourism Award, Media Section and an award from Cacharel in Paris. She has presented over 11,000 hours of keynotes, workshops, seminars and lectures reaching an astounding 55,000 people throughout Australasia.