February 2, 2010

How to Use Humor to Break the Ice

By William F. Kendy

According to stand-up comic David Naster, humor can be a powerful tool in dealing with difficult customers. In his book You Just Have to Laugh (Laughing Advantage Press, 1998), Naster points out the benefits of laughing.

“Laughing can be an incredible emotional release, and it eliminates the negatives that cause tension in our lives,” says Naster. “When you laugh, you blow out internal negative garbage, which is my theory of ‘BOING.’”

Naster knows what it’s like to face tough audiences. “As a performer, one of the worst scenarios I ever had to deal with was having to go on at 1:30 in the afternoon on September 11,” recounts Naster. “My objective was to find the inroad and engage their minds and thoughts, because laughter is all in the way you think.

“George Bernard Shaw once said, ‘Life does not cease to be funny when something bad happens any more than it ceases to be serious when we are laughing,’” says Naster. “I told them that we need to laugh today, because if we don’t laugh and keep a lightness in our spirit, we’ll lose our equilibrium. Then it started to turn into a church revival.

“The way to handle troubled accounts is to find out the common denominator and figure out how to get them to lighten up and laugh,” says Naster. “Pull the rug out from under them by doing or saying something they’re not expecting. Humor is a great way to do it.”

Naster has additional recommendations for salespeople who constantly deal with problem accounts.

“The comic Morey Amsterdam taught me that when things are going badly you should always keep your composure,” says Naster. “And always be nice to the other side. If your client wants to be a jerk with you, don’t be a jerk with him. Be as accommodating and empathetic as you can, and let them know how worthy you think they are.”

David Naster presents and consults on how to bring humor into life and business. For information, call 1-888-815-8119 or visit www.naster.com.