4 Tips to Using Humor to Resolve Conflict in Your Relationships
How can we use humor to resolve conflict?
The conflict has been brewing for a while. The combatants are at crisis point, and it feels like the entire group is holding their collective breath, waiting to see what happens next. At this point, they’re ready for a split, or at the very least, some powerful words.
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The last thing they expect is for one of the key players in the conflict to open their mouth and… make a joke?
Maybe it doesn’t feel like a resolution to the conflict, but actually, laughter goes far beyond being the clichéd ‘best medicine.’ How? First of all, laughter takes the tension out of the situation, which exactly is what’s needed to regain perspective, build stronger bonds, and yes, sometimes smooth over the differences.
The ability to laugh at oneself will keep you humble and loved.
How then do you effectively use humor to resolve conflicts?
Make sure that both parties are ‘in on the joke.’ Keep it real.
By keeping humor wholesome – not at the expense of the other person, you’re focusing on inviting them to laugh with you, rather than laughing at them. How can you tell if you’re doing it, right? Humor is tricky, and so your best indicator of getting it right is to gauge the other person’s reactions.
If they’re not laughing, chances are they don’t find it funny. Stop!
“Sometimes the “point” of the humor is more powerful than the laugh it delivers, and for some of the jokes, the appropriate response is not laughter, but rather a bitter nod or a commiserating sigh of recognition.”My Jewish Learning
This can be wildly effective in helping diffuse and even solve a situation if it is delivered with class and introspection. Using humor to resolve conflict can be tricky, so be prayerful about it.
Check to Make Sure Your Hebrew Humor Helps
If you’re using humor to mask emotions that you’d rather not deal with right now, then it’s time to put a flag on the play. Stop immediately and ask yourself what it is that you’re not dealing with and why.
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Two middle-aged men bumping chests over pronunciation isn’t funny – is it? If you are one of them, there is a good chance you can point out the humor. And use that humor to resolve conflict.
Work on That Sense of Humor
Every good comedian knows how to read their audience. The same goes for using humor with another person, especially in a situation that’s already a conflict. Watch the nonverbal cues.
What language are you using? Keep the tone positive and light, and mean it. That means don’t use jokes as a means of cruelty or putting someone down.
Lastly, consider what you might use as an inside joke. Inside jokes not only keep the situation light but create a deeper intimacy with whom you conflict. More than likely you have some history with your opponent, can you use that? This is one of the most effective forms of using humor to resolve conflict.
Most importantly, be Playful!
A little bit of silly fun is a good thing. Not sure how to tap into that kind of fun and crazy side? Explore humor in other ways so that you always have a repertoire to fall back on.
Watch things you find funny on TV or in movies. Listen to jokes. Read the funnies. Find that side of you that likes to play and encourage it with creativity and fun.
While Jewish humor often includes a critical element, be careful that your criticism is not pointed at your opponent! A stab at the government or another distant entity is safer.
And no matter what, cut yourself some slack. It takes practice to be funny. Hebraic humor is often anti-authority – what a perfect group we Messianic Hebraic Rooters are for that!
Keep at it, and you’ll find your natural sense of humor, and be able to tap into it when you need to. That conflict won’t know what hit it!Silver-Plated Yemenite (Kudu) Shofar