My name is John golden from sales, Papa online sales magazine and pipeliner CRM joining you from lovely San, Diego as usual, and today I’m joined by Karen Botsman, who is actually also in San Diego down the road. How you doing Karen? Oh man, I’m telling you what beautiful day awesome San, Diego and so ken is an international speaker, success, author and neuro humorist.
This is, I love this living at the intersection of the brain and humor. So you live downtown San Diego. She also lives at the intersection of brain, so Karen’s a pioneer of the fire in the field of applied humor. You actually did a master’s thesis in graduate school, and now you work in partnership with neuroscientists, and then you help organizations and people to peak performance to art, the art and science of yeah humor.
So what we want to talk about is okay, so I talk with lots of people about strategic, their strategic that right never about strategic humor to grow your sales soak all right. Let’s go what is strategic humor, its humor, that is used intentionally for a desired outcome, and the insight here is that people think that the purpose of humor is entertainment and that’s true, but that’s only one of the three purposes.
The two other purposes are influence and well-being and for people who are high performers in sales, many of them have a sense of humor and they can be funny and they even recognize that it can be helpful, but they’ve not thought about how they can implement it. Intentionally and consistently – and that’s what we talk about when we talk about strategic humor and high performance humor, because let’s face it, I mean a lot of times when, when people engage with someone, they sometimes use humor as a as defense mechanism as an I as an Icebreaker or, and sometimes you, kids, sometimes it works, and sometimes it’s awkward or whatever, but I don’t think very many people approach it in a strategic fashion.
Right right, you know, and when I’m interviewing people I have a book coming out, this fall as you and I had talked about that Forbes books and I have interviewed many many high performers, particularly in sales, and they are the ones who have thought about this process And before they show up they they are thinking about. You know, how can I use different kinds of tools so that I can have that other person leaning in and this is where I got ta tell you.
This is where I get out on the combination of humor in the brain. This is something that is really very cutting edge and, through the work of people like David Rock, who wrote a great book, called your brain at work and he’s the founder of the neural Leadership Institute. What we know is that when the brain goes into a threat state – in other words, that’s kind of the person leaning away its then putting up their guard, putting up resistance when they’re in a threat state.
They are not hearing you to the degree that you want to be heard, they’re not connecting with you. They may not even like you. They’ve got other kinds of things going on in their mind, and so that really puts up a barrier to the sales process. What can you do to help that brain state become a toward state? Because when, in that, when it’s in an away state now we have adrenaline going up, ignore epinephrine, going up and dopamine and oxytocin going down? And all of these other things looks like this cascade of neurotransmitters that are working against you, but the cool thing about humor is that we now know scientifically that when somebody is engaged in humor and it’s a positive kind of humor, not an aggressive humor, but now We are seeing an increase in dopamine, a decrease in epinephrine and norepinephrine, and an increase in oxytocin, which is that bonding hormone, and so now you have the other person.
You know their brain is leaning in towards you and it makes you more likeable. I know that you know who listening to this is not red rubber child. He needs both influence and persuasion, number one thing being likability. You know people would rather do business with all things being equal with somebody that they like or somebody that they perceive it’s fun and positive. And again, this is one of the many things that human can do for you when you think about using it intentionally yeah, and I think it was a couple of things you touched on there.
I think it’s really fascinating, for people is okay and, as you said, you know, there’s a lot of stuff going on when you’re trying to communicate to somebody, and nowadays it’s even more so because, as I as I say, ad nauseam now we’re not the busiest we’ve Ever been with the most distracted, we’ve ever been just decided to replace distracted with busy to pretend it’s been, but so people are just so distracted right and there’s so much going on that.
It’s really hard to cut through that noise. But, as you say, one of the ways you can do that I mean you’ve obviously taught this for a long time and studied it and help people with it. How often do you see that kind of clutter fall away when somebody suddenly goes? Oh, that’s quite funny. Actually and then suddenly they’re, you know suddenly all of this other stuff that has gone on the brain has been cast aside because they’ve, because it is such a, I don’t know, I was going to say a primal, but in a good way kind of connection.
Yes and again, you know this is all at this unconscious level. Oh good. We know that logic tells emotion cells. But how do you tap into that emotion? You know you can scare the person to death right, remember or you know, try to bully them or whatever that may be. You know, but humor is one of those shortcuts to the emotional process, and so you are tapping into the emotions and and again increasing that resistance and, at the same time improving your your capacity in terms of brain capacity, and so it does tend to have that.
Other stuff, that you know when you say the term fall away. I think, in terms of like that resistance, falling light and as long as the humor is on target and is used appropriately, then you’re going to see that fall away. The issue is that some people – nah I’m going to say most people, don’t really understand all the things that come into play to make humor really work for you right really work, it gets it.
You know it does get a little complex and I’m throwing a lot of things out here because I was going to. I was going to ask her about that right. So, okay, so we know it works when it works right, but we also know that not everybody is number one, naturally funny or witty or whatever, and sometimes people you know try to be funny, but they just come off as awkward or it’s inappropriate at the moment Or it’s basically not funny, which then makes the situation more awkward, because then you have to do that kind of which you don’t could make.
You feel more defensive because you’re just thinking now I just I just showed that was funny. So how do you? How do you advise people on how only on the type of humor how to do it? How do you do it if you’re, not if this isn’t something that you naturally go to? Well, you know there are several push backs, whether those are conscious or unconscious, and one of them is what, if I’m not funny, you know, and when people say that to me my response is great, because the pressure is off what I have discovered over years and Years of research is that high performers understand they don’t have to be funny, they need to see funny, they don’t have to be the initiator, they need to be the appreciator and so take the pressure off.
For one thing you know and there’s there’s many ways that you can leverage humor without ever having to tell a joke yourself. I don’t advise telling jokes unless you are really really good yeah. So, let’s explore that because, as you say, I think it’s just taking the pressure off anybody who’s. Reading this who’s thinking. Oh my goodness, I have to turn into a stand-up comedian. I have to come right, jokes, the night before and arrive first into the room and capture.
So what are some of those ways? As you said, you can see funny or you can highlight something or you can just bring that up without you actually being the initiator. Yes, um anecdotes stories pulling stories from another person. These are ways that I really like, because what is most personal is most universal and when you can start finding stories, I coach a lot of high performers and, and one of the things that I became aware of was you know a lot of them are saying.
Oh, you know I need to be funnier and teach me how to be funny or I want to be funny. Just you know improv whenever and I said you know I can make you funny. I can. I can write you a funny script, but if you, if you don’t know when to use it or where that opening is and how to use it appropriately, you know again awkward. But, but you know, one of the great things about sales is so much of that. It’s more about listening and asking the right questions and, as you’re asking these questions to really have that filter on and again this is a brain process, your reticular activating system, when you have that filter to be listening for these little openings of any kind of a Funny comment that they make.
That’s your cue. How can you leverage that? How can you build off of that another piece of advice that I was coaching a gentleman on the other day in sales because he’s not a funny person, but he showed me a sales presentation that he did and he was talking about something any threw out. A comment and somebody from the audience threw him a line that made everybody laugh right. Okay, this is golden for you.
You know it’s like call, lather, rinse, repeat, okay. That was a funny light next time. You do this presentation, because you do this presentation a lot. Now you get to borrow that person and line and use it for yourself, and you can either refer to the other person or, for God’s sake, just steal. It use it. It’s like to call the creative appropriation. You know, that’s that’s one. It’s really a tool about listening and and leveraging.
You know, there’s there’s um in terms of visuals in your presentations. You know if you’re you know, I don’t know using PowerPoint or something there’s all kinds of visuals that you can use people who keep. You know things of interest on their desk. You know it might be a picture of something that’s interesting or kind of funny and to have one or two things that you can work into a conversation. This is what I called planned spontaneity run.
So it’s a line that you can use, you know and I’ll just give you one quick one. So it’s like. Oh I’m meeting somebody and we’re sitting down and we’re going to have a discussion to see if we’re a good fit and I’ll ask how they are and they’ll say. How are you and my my response? Is you know if I weren’t even there I’d be you, you know it kind of takes them back, but they start to chuckle. I know that brain-wise, the resistance just came down a little bit and so leveraging that you know different kinds of humor without you ever having to be funny.
It is really easy once you get into it yeah, and I like that concept too, that you said about when you’re having conversations you know with a prospect or a customer or whatever and you’re listening, and especially because when somebody starts to tell you about the issues They were having or they try to project last year. Didn’t it didn’t work? Well, you know there’s some more stories there and you know that, probably from this looking at it from this distance now, there’s probably ones that they’ll be on.
You wouldn’t believe what they did at Manor and there’s suddenly this humor in that and you you’ve made that person tell the funny story right. Yes and here’s an interesting thing that again this this wasn’t my own initial insight. I learned this for my son. It’s amazing that we can learn. Our children are best teachers he actually studied with second city yeah, and so and he was a starving artist.
I go to visit him in Chicago and you know I opened the refrigerator in his apartment and there is bread and ranch dressing. Yeah food is hard to improv him. That’s a tough one to improv eating bran, stressing sandwiches, so I take him out to eat. While he’s golfing down food, I said you know just in case this. You know ii said he thing doesn’t work out, you know. Is there a way that you’re going to be able to apply this in your life in other ways, and he was supporting himself by being a waiter at the time, and he said you know mom I’ve always gotten better tips than my counterparts, because I’m funny he Said when I started improv, he said you know.
One of the rules of improv is that you never put the focus on yourself. You never try to be the funniest one you’re. Only you know by everybody trying to make the rest of the team look funny. It raises you know almost in the time, and he said so. I started looking at my tables as part of my troupe and what I realized was in every table. There was somebody who thought they were funny too said mom. When I’m funny.
I get really good tips, but when I can make them look funnier than me, I get amazing tip that is really really cool because it really does play into it played it plays into that kind of idea of. You know the rule of communications that people believe conclusions they come to themselves over anything. You can tell them right, so your job is to help them to come to that conclusion. So, in your son’s case, his job is just to convince them yeah.
You are a really really funny person and who doesn’t like to feel like that exact. I mean that is like one of the ultimate compliments to tell somebody that they’re funny, quite frankly whether you’re, looking for a leader or a lover, one of the top three things people looking for is sense of humor. You know make me laugh, and so, even if they’re not that funny to just go, oh my gosh, you are funny they’re going to be bigger.
Now you put the brain in a really torn state there and then they’re going to love this conversation with you, and I think part of also. I think why this is a kind of a timely message as well. In many ways is, I think it’s facing mean we live in their number one. We live in a pretty angry messed-up world today, and people seem to love doing in the opposite of laughter. This idea of recreational hangar, where people just angry all the time I appropriated that from someone, because that’s exactly what I was, but I’ve been thinking so people are, you know case that and and there’s all these pressures at work and people are angry outside of work And all the stuff going on the bringing in little lightening things up a little.
I mean this is such a perfect time to introduce that, because I say like today: there’s a couple of things being polite will make you stand out, which is an unfortunate thing, but it’s true. It’s unfortunate state of the world I think being lighter and you know, and and creating the environment for a nice happy engagement with someone is going to stand that. So I think the timing of this is is perfect.
Yes and humor. Like you said earlier, it could be a tool or it can be a weapon, and you know, over the past few years we’ve really seen it weaponized. But if you are in a position in sales you’re not trying to weaponize here – and you know – you want to be building these relationships and that’s one of the beautiful things about humor is that it could very quickly bond you with other people and and to you Know so so why not use it and why not use it intentionally and consistently, because the more you do that again, not only are you rewiring your brain, but you’re definitely going to see a difference whether you’re doing presentations, whether you’re, you know wherever you are in The sales process that can, I put humor in my contracts, my closing contracts.
You know it’s just like you know just to see how how closely they’re reading you know, but when people send the contract back, you know they say you know. Oh, you know great contract. It’s all signed, I don’t know if I can really supply the cabana boy to Sergei it’s in your room, but we got everything else covered so so take advantage of that ya know, and I think people are acting. People would be very, very open to it because they’re not getting enough enough kind of just you know warm laughter.
One thing before we finish, though, because I’m you know I was reading and reading some of your stuff, and I and you were talking about doing that – big presentation in Asia. Right, everybody told you, don’t don’t tell any jokes, it’s your bomb and you did and it all worked out, but from how is it? How can people prepare themselves if they have? You know for being careful about humor across cultures and all of that kind of stuff is there? Is there a kind of a safe zone that you could pretty much plays everywhere, or do you have to really figure out the culture um? You know it really does help to know the culture, and I didn’t tell him any jokes.
What I did and I took out all the wordplay. They took out cultural references and I loaded the presentation with funny personal stories, because again, what is most personal, his most universal and – and you know a lot of people preparing me for this – said: don’t panic when nobody laughs and so I’m ready to talk to a Vacuum, but these people I mean I’ve, got pictures of them wiping their eyes, so either they really connected with those personal stories or the translator was going laugh hard.
Now she say something funny, and so what I get from it, though, is because people are connecting, and I think I shared with you that even three days later, a gentleman came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder and said you know: fun eating money Which is not a name, you know that’s what the title that’s coming up, because it was so memorable to them that have made such an impact. You know one of the things that if your listeners and viewers are more interested in this I’ll, give you the link where they can download a sample of what’s coming out in the book.
This fall because I do identify seven important building blocks and again, when you understand these grasp these and apply these you’re going to crush it, but when you miss one and and miss it, you know big time. You know, for instance, one of the very first building block is bond. It’s that relationship between the other person, and so many people assume they have a better relationship than what they really do.
Like, oh man, you know he he likes the Rams. I, like the Rams stuff love this joke uh. You know this political party thing and it’s like blows up in their face. So you know: if people go to humor for me calm, they can download a simple sample of the upcoming book. That’s coming out with forms. This fall yeah and I think that’s it and I and I think that’s a great one to end on just to underline that that one, though about assuming too much because that’s what I advise people nowadays is you’re not going to you’re not going to get penalized For being too polite, you’re not going to even get penalized for being too formal, because you know something and people are getting sick of this over-over familiarity from the gecko.
Yes, i-i’ve never met. I’ve never met you. I’ve never written to you before, but I’m going to go, hey, hey and all this, and it’s just like come on. You know. Let me taste give me at least. Let me have give me the courtesy of giving you permission to do that. Yes, yes, you are spot-on with that one. So before we go tell us a little bit more about the book when it’s released, I presume it’ll be available and all the all the usual blogs and we’ll have it in ioans description, you’ll be able to yeah.
Thank you, I am so excited because this really is cutting-edge material. I’ve been a pioneer in the field of applied humour for the past 30 years, and this content is content that has been pulled together just in the last 15 months and very heavy emphasis on how you can use humor strategically for influence. The title is actually funny means money, strategic humor for influence and world domination and it’ll be coming out.
This fall and again it did we’re we’re putting in the tools the processes assessments. You know I studied humor for 30 years so that you don’t have to, and I think it was EB White said that humor can be detected as a fraud can, but the thing dies in the process and is of interest to only to pure scientists. And so no frogs were harmed in this, but yeah I’m just I seconded it to the point where everybody else would just go: okay, that’s more than enough TMI, fantastic! All right! Well, hopefully, you’ll come back when the book is released and we’ll talk a little more.
It’s been a pleasure again. The book is funny, means money right funny see. That’s such a great title. Nobody can forget that my name is John golaloon from says pop online says magazine and pipeline is here and thanks again Karen, I see all for another expert interview. Really soon, thank you all right, thanks, so much John
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