Karyn Buxman

Catching Up With Karyn

Posts Tagged 'business'

Humor as a Negotiation Tool—or—How Humor Saved the World

OCTOBER 1962 — The world held its breath as America and Russia went to the brink, with nuclear weapons at the ready. Russia was installing nuclear missiles in Cuba—a mere 90 miles from the Florida coast. The 13-day crisis played-out in real time on TV around the world.

As American and Soviet delegates came together to negotiate, tensions were high, and they soon became deadlocked. And then…a Russian delegate told a joke: “What is the difference between Capitalism and Communism? In Capitalism, man exploits man. In Communism, it is the other way around.”

Delegates on both sides laughed, and this created a bond among all of them. (Hey, ya gotta start somewhere!) With the tension eased for the moment, talks resumed, and eventually a deal was struck that avoided blowing up the planet—no small feat!

Whether you’re negotiating for world peace or for which movie to go to, humor can play a crucial role in your success.

According to a recent study on business negotiations, humor has numerous functions in the negotiation process. It can put the negotiators at ease; it can introduce a difficult issue; it can foster togetherness and team spirit; it can help the other negotiator save face; and it can be a way of being cooperative in spite of disagreement.

Additional studies show that if you can inject humor into your negotiations, you’re more likely to get what you’re negotiating for.

Once when I was negotiating with a potential client over the phone, it became obvious that budget was a delicate topic. I could feel the tension rising, and when he posed the question: “How much is this going to cost me?” I wanted to reduce the tension.

I paused and said, “Are you sitting down??” He laughed, and from that point, the conversation about money went smoothly.

Those four little words, spoken in just the right tone of voice, have helped me close dozens of deals over the years.

Think strategically. Who do you negotiate with? It might be with a colleague, a competitor, a customer, an employee, a boss, a colleague or even a family member. (You do understand, I hope, that getting a child to go to bed is not something that you command, but rather something you negotiate. Some of those rugrats make Johnnie Cochran look like an amateur. And don’t even get me started on teenagers!)

What are you negotiating for? Examine it and look for an opportunity to weave in a little humor—like a humorous and relevant anecdote, a funny comment or gesture. You probably want to start with something whimsical. Something short. Something that relates to the situation at hand. Negotiations are often important and intense, so use humor wisely, cautiously and professionally. (No “sharp jabs” like Don Rickles is famous for!)

The ability to successfully negotiate is a helpful skill for everyone, but it’s an essential tool for anyone who plans to sell or lead. You may not be called upon to save the world from nuclear war—but I guarantee that sometime soon you will be called upon to save a deal, or make the sale, or advance your agenda in some manner. Humor, used strategically, can make you a more powerful and effective negotiator.

Karyn Buxman, neurohumorist, is the author of the book Lead with Levity: Strategic Humor for Leaders and creator of an 18 (or 30) day online program to help leaders authentically, consistently and strategically use humor to enhance communication, build resilience and boost engagement. Click here to listen to 3 sample lessons.

Posted in: Business, Humor, Leadership

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I Knew That! (Applied Humor: Knowing versus Doing)

“To know and not to do is not to know.” Chinese Proverb

John glanced quickly over his shoulder as he was driving me to my speaking venue and asked, “So you’re the speaker? What do you speak about?”

Ah! Did he know that this is a professional speaker’s favorite question?! “My body of work for the last 25 years has been the study of humor’s relationship to profitability and health. This afternoon I’m going to share how to use humor as a competitive business edge,” I explained, delighted to share my passion with him.

I could see John’s smiling eyes in the rearview mirror. “Did you know that humor is really, really good for you?” he asked in all sincerity. (Yes, I knew that!) John then went on to tell me a somewhat fuzzy version of Norman Cousins overcoming his life-threatening illness by watching funny movies. It was fun to hear someone else extol on the benefits of humor—and I was encouraged that the word was getting out to the general public that humor has practical benefits.

As I got out of the car and headed toward my meeting, I thought about what John said. Everyone knows humor makes us feel better. Everyone knows it’s enjoyable. Everyone knows that “it’s good for us.” So making humor part of our daily repertoire should simply be common sense, right? But as integrative neuroscientist Dr. Heidi Hanna points out, “Common sense is not common practice.”

Just because we know something is beneficial doesn’t mean we act on that knowledge. I know eating a low-calorie-high-fiber kale salad instead of a piping hot slice of delicious pepperoni and sausage pizza would be better for my waistline—but my belt size can attest to the fact that I don’t act on that knowledge—at least not consistently! My inconsistent actions keep me from experiencing benefits I know to be true.

Just because you know humor can enhance your leadership skills, or give you a competitive edge in sales, or improve your health doesn’t mean that you’re actually experiencing any of these benefits. The truth is that the vast majority of people allow humor to happen by chance, rather than by choice. They stumble across something that makes them laugh in the midst of their busy day and then hurry on—places to go, people to meet. The good news is when you let humor happen by chance, you can still experience some benefits. But when you purposefully implement humor by choicenow you can really leverage the advantages and reap tremendous rewards.

Exercising on an occasional basis is better than no exercise at all, but you really gain the most results when you exercise consistently. It’s similar with humor. When you stumble across humor occasionally, it can elevate your mood, it can decrease your muscle tension, and it may even boost your immune system a bit. But to truly build your resilience, improve your creativity, increase your likability, enhance your communication skills, and reap other additional benefits, it’s best to practice humor consistently—every day.

Let’s say you make a commitment to run a 10K marathon. Would you wait until the day before the race to start working out at the gym? Only if you want to set yourself up for a huge fail! Instead you’d work out on a regular basis—increasing your strength and your stamina. Your commitment to run the race would be futile if you didn’t consistently prepare for it. Business development expert Mark Leblanc once told me, “Consistency trumps commitment every time.” If you want to experience humor as a competitive advantage, then set yourself up to succeed by practicing a bit of humor everyday.

There are many ways to practice humor on a regular basis. Below are three ideas. Pick one and practice it consistently over the next 21 days. (You get extra credit for keeping track of your experiences in a journal.) I promise you that you will begin to see a difference not only in yourself, but also in those around you.

  1. Seek humor from one other person. This can be a customer, a colleague, a friend or a family member. Ask them to share a joke, a funny story, or an embarrassing moment they can now laugh about.
  2. Set a goal to discover one humorous incident in your day. This could be something you read, something you hear, or something that you experience.
  3. Watch one funny video that tickles your funny bone. This might be a gif on your smart phone, a YouTube clip on your computer, or a sitcom on your TV.

Set yourself apart and ahead of the crowd. Give yourself a competitive edge. Practice humor not by chance, but by choice—Humor is power!

Karyn Buxman, neurohumorist, is the author of the book Lead with Levity: Strategic Humor for Leaders and creator of an 18 (or 30) day online program to help leaders authentically, consistently and strategically use humor to enhance communication, build resilience and boost engagement. Click here to listen to 3 sample lessons.

She can also be reached via:

[email protected]
Twitter: @KarynBuxman
Facebook: FB.com/KarynBuxmanSpeaks
LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/in/KarynBuxman
Candy-grams: 1465 C St. #3318 SD, CA 92101
Smoke signals: avoid when prohibited by fire season!

Posted in: Business, Humor

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My “BIGGAS” Savings

Truth is, I don’t watch TV much. Mostly it’s bad for your health. And honestly most of us don’t watch TV as much as we let it drone on in the background until something manages to cut through the clatter.

 

My stress level begins to climb after just a few minutes of listening to Natalie Morales telling me about the war raging in (name-your-location-here), or Norah O’Donnell telling me about the effects of global warming, or Jean Chatsky telling me I’ve invested poorly and am going to have to let my favorite child pick out my nursing home. I’ll admit it, my chest feels a little tighter, my anxiety is a little higher, and I’m wondering if a glass of Merlot for breakfast would count as a fruit on my Weight Watcher points.

 

But yesterday something different cut through the clatter. I’m thinking, “Did I hear that right?!”  I stopped what I was doing and looked up. The commercial for Kmart’s gas savings was quick—and by the time I got to where I could see the TV, the ad was over. But what I heard was so clever and quirky that I was compelled to fire up the computer and look it up on YouTube.

 

Funny? Hysterical!

Witty? You bet!

Edgy? Without a doubt.

 

But Kmart understands that Funny Means Money. If you want someone listening, get them laughing. And now your message, your product, your service is heard above the noise. Trust me. I’m not the first one to forward Kmart’s link to hundreds of my BFFs. Kmart has managed to generate two million hits in just a few days. You can watch it for yourself here. I gotta run. I’m going to get my “BIGGAS” savings.

Posted in: Business

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What’s So Funny About Business?

You might not have an immediate answer for that question.  Business is hard work. Owning and operating a business can consume your life.  Working for somebody else – whether that’s in operations, marketing, hr, or the dreaded accounting division – isn’t necessarily a piece of cake, either.  We devote tremendous amounts of time, energy, and resources into our work, because so much depends on being successful.

Surely this is no laughing matter.

Actually, laughing is the best thing you can be doing.  We’d even argue that you have to laugh, if you want to succeed. Don’t believe us? Just ask the people at Southwest.  Their uniquely humorous approach has earned them significant goodwill and provided them with a valuable differentiator in a crowded and competitive marketplace.

You see, it turns out that the strategic use of humor is one of the single most important tools businesses have at their disposal.  The ability to use humor:

  • effectively attracts more customers to your brand, increasing market share and profitability
  • augments and enhances every marketing strategy
  • makes your company appear more ‘human’ and approachable – vital in a world driven by social media
  • helps ensure superior customer service, from effective customer engagement to resolving complaints quickly
  • makes it easier to attract and retain valuable employees
  • creates a positive workplace environment

And there’s more!

Posted in: Business

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