The training technique many are too afraid to use

by John Hilton29 Mar 2016
“If you don’t like the jokes today there are six ways out of this airplane, feel free to use them.”

“Now folks, please, this is a life vest, not a toilet seat cover.”

"If I can pretend to have your attention for just a few moments, my ex-husband, my new boyfriend and their divorce attorney are going to show you the safety features aboard this 737 800 series."

The above quotes are just a taste of the wisecracks used by flight attendants at the major U.S airline Southwest Airlines. Indeed, it’s a technique the airliner uses to effectively engage an audience who’s likely to zone out from the standard monotonous and repetitive safety instructions.

In fact, generating laughs is part of the official corporate motto at Southwest Airlines. They also test for humour as part of the recruitment process.

Humour is one tool that leaders can use and a new rule of influence which is probably not considered enough, said Yamini Naidu, director of Yamini Naidu Consulting and author of the new book, Power Play.

“Humour power is about using humour skilfully, purposefully an appropriately to influence,” she told L&D Professional.

“I believe in the world of influence humour is the new frontier. And as leaders we are often afraid to use storytelling and humour because we think it might be unprofessional or it might be unsuited to the work context. But both of these are skills that can be taught and learned.”

Naidu also quoted a 2014 article by Alison Beard of the Harvard Business Review which said that laughter “relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being, and spurs not only creativity and collaboration but also analytic precision and productivity”.

Interestingly, the article also stated that on average babies laugh 400 times a day, yet for people over 35 the figure was just 15. This was in addition to a Gallup survey which showed people laugh much more on weekends than they do on weekdays when they’re at work.

“Humour is the Trojan horse of influence and it allows leaders, for their difficult messages, to bypass the audiences’ defences,” said Naidu.

L&D Professional has also previously spoken to the psychologist and CEO of Seven Dimensions, Eve Ash about how humour can be beneficial for learning as long as it’s fast and spot-on in terms of relevance.

Related:

Humour: The secret ingredient for learning?

Famous rapper enlisted to train restaurant employees

Is this the best cure for workplace stress?
 

COMMENTS

  • by Eddie 29/03/2016 2:43:24 PM

    I don't know if people are too afraid to use humour, or if they're incapable of it... the art of story telling and timing is becoming a lost art, as most people these days will discuss jokes by asking ..."did you get the (joke/image) I forwarded you?" It's rare to her people say "did you hear the one about"...

  • by HW The Ethicos Group 24/05/2016 4:51:57 PM

    Yes, humour can work - but few people can write, or deliver, humour, especially when the power structures at work get in the way: which is why most amateur attempts end up being more like 'The Office' than 'Monty Python' or 'Yes Minister'... or The Castle, or Kitty Flanaghan.