You already know that using humor during a serious discussion will help release the tension.
If the serious discussion happens to be a negotiation, humor can be even more helpful. It can actually give you a leg up.
“[H]umor literature shows that using appropriate humor increases the likeability of a communicator…and persuasion studies indicate that liked communicators are more influential.” Not only that, but using humor catches people’s attention, and we already know that people who pay attention are more likely to be persuaded. (This is why the coffee trick works.)
So, if you’re in the middle of a stressful baby name negotiation, don’t forget to say something to make your partner crack up! Not only will it make the conversation more fun, but it may make you more persuasive.
What kind of humor is best? Try to keep it spontaneous and relevant. “The biggest mistake unskilled persuaders make is to use irrelevant humor. To be effective, humor must make a point.”
- Franzoi, Stephen L. Social Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
- Mills, Harry. Artful Persuasion. New York: AMACOM, 2000.
- O’Quin, Karen and Joel Aronoff. “Humor as a Technique of Social Influence.” Social Psychology Quarterly 44.4 (1981): 349-357.