Thursday 21 August 2014

  • Listen carefully to what the customer has to say, and let them finish. Don't get defensive. The customer is not attacking you personally; he or she has a problem and is upset. Repeat back what you are hearing to show that you have listened.
  • Ask questions in a caring and concerned manner.
    The more information you can get from the customer, the better you will understand his or her perspective. I’ve learned it’s easier to ask questions than to jump to conclusions.
  • Put yourself in their shoes.
    As a business owner, your goal is to solve the problem, not argue. The customer needs to feel like you’re on his or her side and that you empathize with the situation.
  • Apologize without blaming.When a customer senses that you are sincerely sorry, it usually diffuses the situation. Don't blame another person or department. Just say, "I'm sorry about that.”
  • Ask the customer, "What would be an acceptable solution to you?"
    Whether or not the customer knows what a good solution would be, I’ve found it’s best to propose one or more solutions to alleviate his or her pain. Become a partner with the customer in solving the problem.
  • Solve the problem, or find someone who can solve it— quickly!
    Research indicates that customers prefer the person they are speaking with to instantly solve their problem. When complaints are moved up the chain of command, they become more expensive to handle and only add to the customer's frustration.
  • There is no getting around customer complaints, regardless of your industry. However, by employing these steps and taking the time to review the issue with the customer, you can turn challenges into something constructive.

1. Think like a reporter. Before putting the effort into writing a press release, determine if your story is newsworthy. Ask yourself, “Why would a reporter want to cover my business?” “What is interesting about what I do and who I serve?” “Will anyone care about this story besides me?” Be honest with yourself.

2. Decide on an angle. How can you add suspense, intrigue or advice to the story? Try to tie your story into a trend, local news or holiday. For instance, if your auto repair business is celebrating its 20th anniversary, you could include the trends you’ve seen in automobiles in the last 20 years of business.

3. Write the story like a reporter would.
The key to a press release is to write the story the way you would expect to read it in a publication. (Here’s a sample press release)

The headline: Include an action verb and give some hint to the angle of your story.

The lead: The first paragraph should include the who, what, when, where, why and how of your story. It’s always good to include a twist or “hook” to grab the reader’s attention.

Quotes: Ask clients or customers to comment about the story. This will add credibility to your story and make your press release stand out.

Photos: A picture is worth a thousand words—not to mention it makes your release more eye-catching. “People really like to see what’s going on,” says Rozgonyi.

Length: Keep it concise. Reporters don’t have time to read a press release longer than one page.


Let's face it: No one likes to get complaints. In fact, most business owners will do almost anything to avoid them. But mistakes happen, andbelieve it or nota complaint from a customer can actually be blessing in disguise. Follow these six steps to turn complaints into opportunities to grow and improve your business:

1. Act fast. It can be tempting to put off meeting with or returning a phone call or e-mail from a disgruntled customer, but the sooner you respond, the better. If you're deeply committed to your business, it may be easy to assume that a complaint is incorrect or the customer is mistaken. But remember: Most people don't take the time and trouble to complainthey'll share their concerns with neighbors, friends and relatives instead. So if they complain and hear nothing, or get a casual "We'll get to it when we can" response, they'll assume that you don't care and/or don't plan to address the situation. Many customers feel awkward about complaining in the first place, so if their concerns are ignored or minimized, they will remember it and take their business elsewhere.

2. Listen and learn. Give customers who complain an opportunity to talk without being interrupted. Do not make excuses or offer answers until they finish. Show understanding and concern by listening with an open mind, taking notes and asking questions. Break through generalizations to get to the facts. A customer may start his or her complaint by saying that everything was bad, when he or she may have been dissatisfied by only a small part of the experience. Make sure that you understand the circumstances and the customer's perception before determining how to respond. Repeat the facts surrounding the situation and your understanding of their viewpoint back to them ("As I understand the situation, here's what happened.... Is that correct?"). This shows that you understand where they are coming from and want to make them happy.

3. Apologize. A statement like "We understand how this would upset you …" or "We realize how disappointing this must have been …" acknowledges the customer's feelings without necessarily saying that he or she is right. Of course, if your company is at fault, don't hesitate to take full responsibility. And remember that you represent your entire operation, so never blame a department or employee for a mistake or oversight. Whether talking to a customer or responding to a complaint in writing, avoid using a defensive tone. Stay open and friendly, even thanking the customer for calling the issue to your attention. Apologize for any misunderstanding that may have taken placeeven if on the part of a customer. Choose your battles wisely. Even if the customer is wrong, do you really want to lose his or her business?

4. Stay cool. No matter how reasonable or polite you are, it won't be enough to calm some angry customers down. Remember that sometimes all people want is a chance to vent their frustration and anger. Never return those emotions or view the complaint as an insult or personal affront. Instead, take a deep breath and let them speak their piece. Resist the urge to raise your voice in a heated conversation or return a nasty e-mail with a sarcastic reply. Try to separate what the person is unhappy about from what they want you to do about it. Don't feel pressured to promise something you can't deliver, but try to put yourself in the customer's shoes to figure out how to resolve the situation. If you need to research what happened or collaborate with others on what to do, let the customer know right away rather than guessing at an answer.

5. Make it right. Often customers don't care why a problem happenedthey just want to know what you plan to do about it. Once you've clarified what kind of compensation the customer expectsa refund, an exchange or a discountdo what you say you will do and make sure that it's done right. If customers have trouble communicating exactly what their complaint is and how they want you to solve it, evaluate the pros and cons of several different solutions with them. Apply company policies to the situation and make adjustments when reasonable. If the incident doesn't merit a change in policy, explain calmly and look for another type of consolation to offer the customer. Take care of the matter personally or under your direct supervision. And be sure to give customers a way to contact you with feedback. Any small gesture, such as a gift certificate or a coupon enclosed in an apology letter, helps reiterate how much you value their business.

6. Follow up. Give it some time and if you haven't seen or heard from the customer in a few weeks, follow up. If you sent an apology letter with a gift certificate, for instance, check to see if they have been back to your store and how their experience went. Or if you apologized via e-mail and didn't hear back, touch base to see if there is anything else you can do to ensure that they are happy with your service. While the complaint may have stemmed from a rare, isolated incident, figure out what you can do to keep it from happening again and brainstorm with employees about ways to improve your service to customers.
If you handle it right, a customer complaint can be an opportunity to exceed customer expectations and strengthen their loyalty to you.

There are those days when you focus on hitting sales targets and generating the most from cross-channel communications campaigns. While you can control the message from your side what you can’t always predict is the customer's reaction.
Customers - in the form of buyers, fans, ambassadors, users and potentially vendors - power commercial profits and frontiers. Yet the art of charm, in tough and real situations, is one which requires a special form of mastery.
These days customers come in all guises and preferences. They can be segmented into those in, say, the long tail, hard-to-reach, niche, undecided, receptive, interested, amenable, converted, engaged, frequent and brand ambassadors categories, through to grouchy, uncompromising, picky, inconsistent, competitor-focused and time-consuming. There are simply those whom just will not display appropriate behaviours and buying patterns.
And, there are those customers whom make complaints and elicit negative brand feelings.
Here are eight ways to deal with difficult customers in order to maintain brand reputation and power quality marketing. Interestingly, these strategies aren't so far from the concept of conflict resolution:-
 1. Pay Attention: Listen to their complaint or gripe in full
The customer's negative talk is probably because of the way they perceive a situation. A few minutes or more of focused, quiet and non-judgmental active listening on your part will often be the first in a critical step which sets the tone for a productive conversation which puts the needs squarely on the customer.
2.     EI: Understand why they think and feel as they do
The next step on from listening is understanding. Getting to the root of the problem may be instant or require further probing. Ask the customer: what are you specifically referring to?  What are you actually frustrated about? What are you really angry about? What steps happened to you to prompt this reaction? What feeling(s) does this experience evoke? The customer may go from belligerent, high-volume or threatening to coherent, articulate and explanatory in a matter of minutes based on assertive questioning. The idea is to dig for the cause as opposed to just the effect.
3.     Analyse: Is this genuine, part of a pattern, or a one-off?
Brand reputation is a delicate consideration. It sits across all elements of marketing communications. The customer may have received the wrong order, or been poorly treated by a sales agent at some point during the customer journey. Their phone call may not have been picked up in those crucial three rings. Maybe they were left 'on hold' for an agonising amount of time, or their shopping basked request crashed at your ecommerce check-out point. But each reactive response must be judged individually on its merit. It's wise to consider: Is this really a genuine, one-off complaint? Is this customer a meddler, with repeat complaints keen to extract business goods which are not justified? Or is this a customer who is consciously out to erode the quality of the brand with their complaint? This is a judgement call which only the person or manager dealing with it can make based on experience. However, there should be some sort of accounts record of all complaints made so there is evidence and track-ability of these types of instances. Some customers are decent and honest types; others may be out to 'game' the business – beware.
4.    Evaluate: Offer a solution that meets that need
Simple – have a watertight policy in place which protects not only the company’s best interests but which also takes into account the legal rights of the customer. Have a swift returns policy or loyalty promise in place. Issue a product recall announcement if the product is indeed faulty. It may be a policy which can be gauged by levels of complaint and displeasure, for instance: free 24 hour window for returns; 15% off next purchase for a wrong product sent; £40 in partner gift vouchers for particular unforeseen issues; 25% off the new special edition to premium-level and 'red alert complaint' reviewer lists ahead of market launch. If needs be go back internally and reconstruct whatever was the root problem.
5.     Brand Act: Be professional at all times
Listen, talk intelligently, explain, offer apologies and treat each customer as a professional who has a valid issue. It's always good to respect their time and attention. At all costs it's important not to compromise the brand. Quality customer service and brand reputation are two important elements that customers will remember and can influence through their own channels.
6.     Safety: Remember your human rights too
Remember your human rights. At the end of the day if a company representative feels uncomfortable, out of your depth, or threatened by a customer then it’s time to take a different kind of action: self-preservation. Either move the telephone call onto specialist department, get a manager involved, or extract yourself from the situation in the nicest possible way. There is customer compassion; and there is knowing your needs in any given situation.
7.     Result: Follow-up contact
Every customer, good or bad, can be won over – it’s just a matter of appropriate time, strategies and effort. If they are the type whom will respond to common sense and the olive branch then follow-up emails, well-timed phone calls and targeted marketing communications will turn the tide against a difficult customer into a profitable one.
8.     Tailor: Don’t expect that this works every time
Every difficult customer is different. It’s worth assessing what type, category and flavour they each are. Some customers will be easy to find a solution for, whilst others will require more energy and more complex strategies for successful engagement. Keep trying. And tailor where necessary.
It's likely that most customer complaints can be managed swiftly and successfully without recourse to serious escalation. Ideally incidences will be nipped in the bud. Businesses with well trained staff and good data-rich marketing systems which cut across social and mobile can even be forewarned of any customer issues or oversights that may arise due to robust tracking and analytical dashboards.

These examples are proof of just how tricky it can be to properly navigate customer complaints.
Spirit Airlines has a policy and they’re sticking to it. That seems to be how the company chooses to handle customer complaints. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, that approach might not be what’s best for business. When any company receives a complaint, it essentially has two choices. One, treat the complaining customer like he’s a pain in the neck. Or two, appreciate each complaining customer and use the complaint as an opportunity to improve.
One complaining customer actually represents many other customers who had the same problem, but didn’t complain. And because that’s true, you should try to uplift them every time.
For every person who actually comes to complain to you, there is a quantum number who won’t come to you. They’re the ones who go off and tell somebody else, complain about you online, and take their business elsewhere. Let’s say 1 out of 100 of your customers actually comes to you with their complaint. Shouldn’t you really value that person times 100? Because they’re representing all the other people who never came to you, you should be happy—or if not happy, at least very, very appreciative—when someone actually takes the time to give you a second chance.
Here is some advice on how to use customer complaints to uplift your service.
Thank them for their complaint. Give positive recognition by saying, right off the bat, “Thank you for reaching out.”
Show appreciation for the complaining customer’s time, effort, communication, feedback, and suggestions. Always keep in mind that the customer didn’t have to come to you at all. He could have simply taken his business to your competitor. When a customer gives you the opportunity to recover their service, be grateful.
Don’t be defensive. It’s easy to get defensive when an angry customer is on the other end of the line. Customers with complaints exaggerate situations, they get confused, and yes, they may even lie about how things went down. It’s tempting, as the Spirit Airlines CEO did in his “Reply All” email, to just blow off the customer. You want to say, “No! That’s not what happened. You’re wrong!” But getting defensive will lead only to more problems.
When you get defensive, you raise the temperature even higher. Think about the last time you had a disagreement with your spouse. How did it make you feel when he or she told you that you were wrong about something or completely denied that a set of events happened the way you said they happened? Probably not very happy. When a customer complains, they’re doing so because they feel wronged in some way. You don’t have to agree with what they’re saying. But you do have to agree to hear them out. That’s how you keep the conversation moving in a positive direction.
Acknowledge what’s important to them. Service providers must find a complaining customer’s value dimension (or what’s important to them). Even if you think the customer’s complaint is unfair, there is something they value that your company didn’t deliver on. Embrace that value.
What the customer wants is to feel right. When you agree with their value dimension, you’re telling them they are right to value this specific thing. For example, if a customer says your service was slow, then that customer values speed. You might say, ‘Absolutely, you deserve quick, efficient service.’ Or if a customer says your staff was rude, you might say, ‘We do agree that you should be treated with courtesy and respect every time you come to our store.’ In Spirit Airlines’ case, the man was complaining about their no-refund policy. The company might have responded by saying, ‘We understand that flexibility in appropriate circumstances is the right thing to do.’
When you validate what a customer values, you aren’t agreeing with them that your service is slow or that your staff is rude. You’re saying, ‘We agree with you on what you find important and what you value. And we want to deliver in those areas.’
Use judo, not boxing. In boxing, you go right after your opponent, trying to punch him to the ground. In judo, you work with someone else’s motions to create a desired result. You use another person’s speed and energy to spin him around and then end up together on the same side.
When you show a customer you understand what they value, you’re catching them off guard with your own movement. They don’t expect you to tell them that they’re right. Suddenly, just as you might do in judo, you’ve avoided a defensive confrontation and you can spin them. In judo, you’d spin them to the ground. In customer service, you use the opportunity to show the customer that you’re now both on the same side and you can work together.
Apologize once, upfront. Every service provider knows that the customer is not always right. But the customer is always the customer. You don’t have to tell the customer you were wrong, but you should apologize for the inconvenience they’ve experienced. When you do so, you’re showing understanding and empathy for their discomfort, displeasure, or inconvenience.
Explain the company’s desire to improve. When you understand what the customer values, show them things your company does that helps you perform well in that area. For example, let’s say a customer is complaining because a package was delivered a day late. You would say, “We understand that quick, on-time delivery is important to our customers.”
Now the unhappy customer will probably say, “But you failed in my case! My package was a day late.” Then, you should calmly say, “Here’s what happened. On that day there was a snow storm that slowed our service. I’d like to reassure you that we are working right now to find a better solution. In fact, we’ve recently invested $1.7 million in a fleet upgrade that will allow us to better navigate inclement weather and keep our deliveries coming to you on time.”
Show you are sincere about your commitment to do well in the areas the customer values. At the very least, you can say, ‘I’m going to make sure everyone in the company hears your story. We don’t want this to happen again.’ When you express the company’s desire to improve, you start on the path to rebuilding its credibility with the customer.
Educate your customer. Part of hearing the customer out is answering any questions they ask about their specific situation. Provide additional, useful information. If they ask a question that you can’t answer or don’t know the answer to, tell them you’ll find out the answer and get back to them. And then actually follow through. Contact the customer with the answers they requested. And even if they might not have requested an update about their situation, get back in touch with them with one anyway. These are additional opportunities for you to say through your actions, ‘We care about you. We value your business.’
Contain the problem. Let’s say a family is at a crowded theme park on a hot day. The youngest child in the group starts to have an all-out meltdown. Suddenly, a theme park staff member sweeps onto the scene and whisks the family into a special room. Inside, they find an air conditioned room with water and other beverages, an ice cream machine, a bathroom, a comfortable sitting area, etc. The only thing missing in the room is any connection to the theme park’s brand. That’s because this room is used to isolate customers from the brand until they’re all—parents and children—having a more pleasurable experience. The room is also being used to isolate the unhappy family from the families outside the room who are enjoying their day at the theme park. And finally, they’re being isolated from some park staff who may not be as well-prepared as the staff member who brought the family to the room to handle these sticky situations.
That’s how you contain a problem. The Spirit Airlines situation is completely different, but they still had an opportunity to contain the problem before it became a national public relations disaster. They could have done so by having a service provider educated in uplifting service responding to the customer’s complaint. They might have said, ‘No matter what our rules or policies are, we see that your circumstance requires flexibility. We want to handle your special situation carefully. Let’s work together to figure out what’s best. But first, let me thank you for reaching out.’ Had they said this, they would have been working together with their customer to solve the problem. Instead, he didn’t feel like he was going to get help from the airline so he took his complaint elsewhere.
Recover. Show the customer you care about them, even if you feel the company did everything right, by making them an offer. Companies worry that they’ll get taken advantage of if they give vouchers, discounts, or freebies as part of their service recovery, but the reality is that almost never happens.
Offer the customer something and then explain that you’re doing so ‘as a gesture of goodwill’ or ‘as a token of our appreciation.’ Sears takes recovery seriously. The company now has a ‘blue ribbon team’ of specially educated and empowered staff to handle recoveries. Once an issue goes to them, anything they recommend is what gets done. They have full support from the top down. Sears does this because the company understands that a successfully recovered customer can become your most loyal advocate and ally.
Give serial complainers an out. Some people just love to complain. These kinds of customers complain, not so that they can become satisfied, but because they are never satisfied. With serial complainers, you must limit your liability and isolate them from your brand.
One leading luxury airline had a serial complainer who loved caviar. He loved it so much that on every flight he’d eat all of the caviar the flight crew had to offer and then he’d complain that they didn’t have enough. As a test, the airline even stocked extra caviar on one of his flights. He ate it all again, and complained…again. His constant complaints led the airline to send him a letter. Essentially it read, ‘Thank you for traveling with us for so many years. It appears that despite our best efforts we haven’t been able to satisfy you. Out of our concern for your happiness we’ve provided you here with the contact information for three other airlines that serve your route of travel. However, should you choose to travel with us again, and enjoy the high level of service we are able to provide, we will be delighted to welcome you on board with us again.’ With the letter, they gave the complaint-prone passenger an out. On the rare occasions when you deal with someone who complains all the time, that’s the best thing to do.
Your customers are not your enemy. It’s sometimes hard to remember that when you’re involved in a tense complaint situation. But they’re essential to your business and you really are both on the same side. Your customer wants the product or service you provide, and you want to give it to them. When you treat complaints as opportunities to build loyalty, you can create customers for life and uplift your entire company in the process.

What place, if any, does profanity have in writing? There are as many different answers as there are types of writing.


Novels that purport to reflect real life must include profanity if the life they reflect includes use of profanity. This is difficult to accept for many people of a certain age, dismayed by the ubiquity of swearwords in modern literature, who have the disadvantage of having grown up during an era when books and movies were censored. (But let’s get real: In the Old West, cantankerous cowboys did not refer to each other as “You no-good so-and-so,” and in combat, to paraphrase a well-known expression, there are no decorous speakers in foxholes.) Popular entertainment often admittedly goes overboard in drenching dialogue in profanity, but that is merely an exaggeration, not a fabrication, of reality.
If you’re going to write novels or short stories, it seems that to be honest with yourself and your readers, if a story takes place in a milieu in which profanity is uttered, at least some of your characters are going to be swearing. If, however, the setting does not lend itself to cursing, it’s not an issue.


Over the past couple of years, several nonfiction books with asterisk-laden titles have appeared, including Sh*t My Dad Says, a compendium of quotations from the author’s foul-mouthed father; the self-explanatory A**holes Finish First and The Complete A**hole’s Guide to Handling Chicks; the bedtime-book parody Go the F**k to Sleep; and the latest example, the trivia compendium The Little Book of Big F*#k Ups: 220 of History’s Most Regrettable Moments. These books were preceded some years ago by the memoir Another Bull**** Night in Suck City, which is being adapted into a film starring Robert DeNiro. (The movie version, apparently, is titled Welcome to Suck City.)
Our society is not yet ready for uncensored book covers (or movie titles), but the pages between are accessible only to those who choose to access them, whether in a bookstore or a library (or someone’s home), so outcries of outrage are pointless. Few book publishers would permit profanity in books targeted to minors, but you might argue that children can thumb through such books in the adult-trade shelves. If, while doing so, they see swear words they don’t already know (whether they use them or not), what damage, exactly, has been done? Explicit sex and violence are a much greater concern than naughty words.
Again, if you choose to write — in this case, nonfiction — and if swearing is appropriate to your presentation, cuss away. If it isn’t, the question is irrelevant.

Journalism and Online Publications

Does profanity have a place in journalism? Mainstream print publications, and their online versions, so as to avoid alienating subscribers and advertisers, are unlikely to reproduce quoted profanity or allow it in the narrative. If it is necessary to report that a profane or obscene word was uttered or was printed elsewhere, the publication will either disguise the word with asterisks or other marks, or paraphrase it.
Publications that cater to certain demographics, however, tend to allow foul language for dramatic or comic effect. You can protest that such usage is gratuitous or excessive, but that means the publication is not appropriate for you, not that it’s inappropriate.
Newspapers and magazines, whether read on paper or on screen, are commercial products, and editors will determine what constitutes acceptable content in the context of the market. Publishers of niche publications, and of self-published materials such as blogs, are entitled to decide for themselves.

Degrees of Profanity

Ultimately, the question any purveyor of prose must answer is, where do you draw the line? Certain four-letter words are either acceptable or anathema. But what about minor league profanity: hell, damn, and the like? If you prohibit these words in your publication, what about heck, darn, and gosh, which are all merely disguised forms of literally profane profanity? What about effing or bleep? Everyone knows what each means or could mean. Why permit euphemisms or evasive explications? Don’t you risk offending readers or site visitors who resent such coy conjurings intended to wink-and-nudge them about what you might otherwise have explicitly stated?
The more significant connotation of that question is, why choose profanity over no profanity? Using profane and obscene words certainly communicates passion, but are you taking the low road, the easy way out, by dropping f-bombs instead of raising eloquent arguments? Are you debasing language, and culture, by pandering to provocation?
I’m not advocating or attacking profanity. I swear on occasion, and not just when I hit my thumb with a hammer. I believe that use of profanity in speech or writing can be both a rich source of humor and effective as an emphatic rhetorical device. But it doesn’t matter what I think. For both producers and consumers of content, it is an individual issue: Either you accept it, or you don’t.
Like any bad habit, swearing is easy to pick up and a lot more difficult to put a stop to. Sometimes you don't even realize that you're doing it. However, it is certainly possible to change your swearing habits by recognizing that you have a problem and putting a genuine effort into correcting it. This article will provide a few helpful tricks to clean up your language - no washing your mouth out with soap needed!

Method 1 of 3: Training Yourself to Stop Swearing

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Enlist the help of a friend. Sharing a difficult experience or task with a friend or partner will make the whole experience more tolerable, even enjoyable. Enlisting a friend to help you in your endeavor to stop swearing can work in one of two ways:
  • You can either rope in a friend who also has a swearing problem and work towards cutting out the bad language together, or you can ask a clean-mouthed comrade to monitor your language and give you a gentle reminder whenever you slip up.
  • Either way, having someone to hold you accountable for your swearing slip-ups will force you to stick to your guns and kick this bad habit once and for all.
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Identify your triggers and learn to avoid them. Everyone has their own individual triggers which set them off, leading to the intense desire to swear. For some people it's traffic, for others it's the queue at the grocery store and for others still, it's when yet another character dies on "Game of Thrones". If you can pinpoint what your exact triggers are, you may be able to avoid them - by leaving work 30 minutes later to avoid rush hour, by shopping online, or by watching reruns of "Friends" instead.
  • Remove yourself from any situations which cause negative emotions to rise and you'll be better able to control what comes out of your mouth.
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Use a swear jar.[1] The swear jar is a tried-and-tested method which has helped many people to kick their swearing habit. It usually involves taking a large jar or money box (something you can't easily break into) to which you will add a dollar (or some other arbitrary amount of money) every time you utter a swear word. You can view the swear jar in two ways, as a punishment or as a delayed reward:
  • It's a punishment because you have to say goodbye to a dollar every time you slip up. But it's also a reward, because once the jar is full (or you've successfully stopped swearing - whichever comes first) you get to spend the money on whatever you like - whether you want to buy yourself some new threads, or donate the money to charity.
  • Keeping the swear jar in your office is a good idea if you have roped several people into giving up swearing. Everyone will hold each other accountable and make sure that nobody tries to sneakily avoid sacrificing their dollar. Once the jar is full, you can celebrate by buying a new coffee machine for your entire floor.
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Ping your wrist with a rubber band.[1] This method is the human equivalent of putting an electric shock collar on a dog to eliminate bad behaviors - unsavory but effective. Basically, all you need to do is wear a rubber band or a hair tie around your wrist and give it a firm snap every time you catch yourself swearing.
  • The thinking behind this is that your brain will come to associate swearing with pain and, over time, will cause you to mentally shy away from using bad words.
  • If you're really serious about this method, you could give permission to a friend (preferably one prone to a little schadenfreude) to snap the band for you. Just try to remember that you agreed to it.
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Pretend your grandmother is always within earshot.[1] Another way to train yourself to bite your tongue whenever you feel a swear word coming on is to imagine that someone is listening. All the time. It could be your grandmother, your boss or your innocent little son or daughter, just as long as it's someone you'd be ashamed to swear in front of.
  • Whenever you swear, visualize them standing beside you with a shocked or horrified expression on their face. That should help deter you.
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Avoid explicit music and other swear-happy media. Many people's swearing habits, especially those of teenagers, are influenced by the explicit content of much of their favorite music, movies or T.V. shows. If you feel like this is the case, and you're swearing to sound like your favorite rapper, you may need a reality check to remind yourself that this is not how people speak in the real world. Try switching your radio station to squeaky-clean pop music, or at least download the clean versions of your favorite songs instead.

Method 2 of 3: Changing Your Attitude

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Convince yourself that swearing is a negative thing. Swearing is used in a lot of different contexts - you might swear when you are angry or frustrated, when you are trying to emphasize a point or when you are trying to be funny. Swearing is an unpleasant habit for a variety of reasons. It gives the impression of stupidity or a lack of education, even if this is not the case. It can be intimidating or viewed as a form of bullying if directed at another person. It can also be extremely offensive or off-putting to listeners, thus limiting your job prospects or ruining your potential for romantic engagements.[2]
  • Your swearing habit may have developed as a child, if you were exposed to bad language in your family home. Or it might have started as a teenager, when you used curse words to look cool in front of your friends.
  • Whatever the reason, there's no point in looking back and blaming people. The most important thing is that you recognize that you have a problem and commit to working through it.
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Practice positive thinking. Positive thinking is essential to giving up swearing. This is because people are generally much more inclined to swear when they are complaining about something, in a bad mood or just being negative in general. By thinking positively, you are removing the need to swear altogether. Admittedly, learning how to think positively can be difficult. If you find yourself leaning towards negative thoughts or emotions; just stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself "does it really matter?"[3]
  • For example, ask yourself "does it really matter if I'm a few minutes late for my meeting?" or "does it really matter if I can't find the remote control and have to switch the channels on the television set instead?" Putting a situation into the right perspective can help you to calm down and overcome negative emotions.
  • In addition, you will need to think positively about your ability to stop swearing. If you have a negative outlook and have doubts about your ability to succeed, you are setting yourself up for failure from the get-go. Remind yourself that if people can give up smoking or lose hundreds of pounds of weight through dieting, you will definitely be able to give up swearing!
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Be patient with yourself. Swearing is habit that you've probably picked up over a number of years and which you've come to rely on as part of your daily speech. Like any ingrained habit, it will be impossible to stop doing it overnight. Training yourself to stop swearing is a process, you'll have good days and bad days, but it's important to keep at it. Remind yourself why you're doing it and visualize how good you'll feel when you've finally kicked the habit.
  • Really think about why you want to stop swearing. Maybe you're afraid of giving off the wrong impression at a new job or you don't want to set a bad example for your kids. Use this as motivation to keep trying.
  • Whatever you do, don't give up. Exercise your self control and remind yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to!

Method 3 of 3: Changing Your Speech Patterns

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Pay attention to your swearing habits. An isolated swear word here and there can be forgiven - but if you find yourself swearing constantly, unable to to go more than a sentence or two without throwing in an expletive, that's when you know you have a problem. The first step in training yourself to stop swearing is to become aware of when you do it. Do you only curse around certain people or in specific situations? Is there a particular swear word that you use all the time? Try to identify why you curse and the role that swear words play in your speech patterns.
  • Once you begin paying attention to your swearing habits, you may be shocked by how much you rely on swearing to express yourself. Don't be too dismayed by it though, recognizing how often you curse is the first step towards fixing the problem.
  • Once you start paying attention to your own cursing habits, you will start to pick up on other people's, without even realizing it. This is also a good thing, as you will realize how unpleasant swearing sounds and what a negative impression it gives off.
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Replace swear words with harmless substitutes. Once you have identified your major swearing habits, you can set about eliminating swear words from your casual speech. This is when you curse for no real reason - you're not angry, it didn't just slip out - you are just using the curse word as a figure of speech. You can correct this problem by replacing the curse word with a harmless substitute, perhaps something beginning with the same letter or with a similar sound, which doesn't cause offense.
  • For example, try replacing "sh**" with "sugar" or "f***" with "duck". You'll feel silly saying these words at first, but you'll get used to it after a while. Using such meaningless words may even eliminate your need to express yourself negatively at all.
  • Even if you slip up and say the forbidden curse word, follow it immediately with your chosen alternative. Over time, your brain will come to associate the two and you will be able to actively choose one over the other.
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Expand your vocabulary. Swear words are often used "for want of a better word." The problem with this excuse is that there are plenty of better words out there, any of which will allow you to express yourself much more eloquently and succinctly than a curse word ever will. By expanding your vocabulary and replacing your most commonly used swear words with an array of alternative options, you will come across as being more intelligent, pleasant and laid-back than ever before.
  • Make a list of your favorite swear words, then use a dictionary or thesaurus to come up with a range of alternative options. For example, instead of using the word "B.S." morning, noon and night, try replacing it with infinitely more descriptive and humorous words such as balderdash, hogwash, drivel and baloney.[3]
  • You can also expand your vocabulary by reading more books and newspapers. Jot down any descriptive words that tickle your fancy and make an effort to use them in a sentence. Also make an effort to really listen to other people and make a mental note of the words and phrases that they use to express themselves, rather than resorting to swearing.




Workplace Humor Done Right

Find Your Funny Bone

You don’t have to be a candidate for “Last Comic Standing” to make humor work for you. Much of what makes people laugh isn’t snappy one-liners, but cogent observations through a slightly twisted lens or making light of the obvious absurdities of life.

“Levity is a learnable skill that can enrich your workplace culture and your personal life,” notes Scott Christopher, co-author of The Levity Effect: Why It Pays to Lighten Up. “It's not something you have to be born with. If you're a brow-knitter or a jaw-clencher by nature, it's not too late.”

To get your funny on, follow this advice from Steven Sultanoff, a professor at Pepperdine University and past president of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor:

    Teach yourself to look and think outside the box. 
    Poke fun at events, not people. 
    Look for absurdity and incongruity in situations to develop your sense of humor.

Suppress Your Inner Rickles

One person’s joke is another person’s insult, so humor in the workplace shouldn’t be used indiscriminately. “Always double-check your attempts at humor to make sure they wouldn’t generally be considered offensive to most people,” counsels Cathy Hart, vice president, human resources and central services for Opus Corp. in Minneapolis. “Mean-spirited humor isn’t, in fact, humor at all. It’s a passive-aggressive way to take out stress on others.”

How do you know? “If you have to say, ‘I was only kidding’ or ‘Can’t you take a joke?’ then you are likely using hostile humor,” Sultanoff says. To keep it playful, “use props like foam balls, wind-up toys, humorous signs, etc.”

Get Playful

For instance, when tensions get high at Social Sauce, a user-generated content and communication platform in New York City, combatants break out foam swords. “In an office of mostly Internet and tech males, the sword fights diffuse tension by allowing coworkers to play similarly to the online games they play or develop,” explains Jenn de la Vega, a marketing assistant there.

“I believe that the playful attitude associated with the swords allows a degree of comfort where coworkers can talk to each other honestly and approach each other when they disagree,” de la Vega adds.

Realize the Value of Workplace Humor

In the end, levity among the cubicles isn’t just good for you and your coworkers -- it benefits the business. “Fun and humor at work are proven characteristics of organizations with higher retention, engagement and profitability,” Christopher says.

“We worked with the Great Place to Work Institute -- you know them from Fortune's annual Best Places to Work issue -- and found that companies that scored the highest in fun and levity were the ones that made the list,” Christopher explains. “These companies, incidentally, produced up to five times higher returns on investment than the S&P 500 in one study.”


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What Workplace Sense Of Humour Is:

When your boss asks if you have a sense of humor, he’s not asking if you’re a clown. What he is asking is whether or not you can accept criticism, deal with difficult people, and gracefully handle mistakes without snapping people’s heads off when things get stressful. This is the ability to take the inevitable work setbacks in stride and quickly find solutions to continue moving forward.
The modern workplace is a sensitive environment, the jokes that got laughed at during your teen and college years will likely not get the same responses in the workplace and may end in a visit with HR for sexual harassment, personal attacks, inappropriate workplace behaviour. To avoid this, I’ve made a few guidelines that will keep your co-workers entertained and you continuing up the corporate ladder.

Guidelines For Appropriate Workplace Humour

(Warning: Jokes can be deadly, Use With Caution)

1. You Can Laugh At Anything, But Not With Everyone
Know your room, everywhere isn’t a bar and as the realtor in the first story found out, you must assess the environment you’re in and ask yourself, is this appropriate for this group?

2. Don’t Joke About Co-workers
Making fun of a co-worker is funny until they find out, which is guaranteed to happen and when it does, they will not be amused. Nobody enjoys being the joke, especially in a professional environment where you’re there to be judged on your performance. This will create tension and you want to avoid making enemies in a place where you spend a good portion of your time.

3. Avoid Putdowns Of People
Coming up with a great joke about a person is difficult and you probably want to share your masterpiece. Whenever I hear people slamming others, it immediately makes me think that they have low self-esteem at this moment and are looking to make themselves feel better at someone else’s expense. Joking about products, especially a competitors is a much safer way to get humour, be productive and include how your’s in better to maximize this exchange.

4. Use Humour To Make People Feel Good
You’re a leader, not a comedian, your assessment is based on performance, so if you have great material that you need to get out, go to an open-mic night. This is powerful because when placed in a position of leadership, you can use a self-deprecating joke and follow it with praise for what that person has accomplished. The result is that they will view you as a human, be more accepting, and will work harder for you because you are supporting their work.

5. Don’t Force It
This is something I’ve struggled with, having been on a roll, having the audience laughing and wanted to out-do myself, rarely does it work and often leads to a joke that get’s a couple laughs, then fades quickly. There’s something to be said for comedic timing, when you get a good joke in, leave it and walk away. You will leave a positive memory and they will be waiting for the next joke, let the anticipation build.


Personal Health

Break up the workday with some physical activity, laughter, or even meditation to help reduce stress, improve blood flow and even burn calories.

1. Relax and Recharge: Spend 15 minutes a day relaxing and recharging at recess.
2. Walk around: Start a walking group at work; map out a route through the office that has you walking for at least 10 minutes.
3. Be Hularious: Hold a hula hoop contest.
4. Sleep: Take a nap at work.
5. Breathe: Take 10 deep breaths every hour.
6. Smell the Roses: Take a break to take in your surroundings.
7. Bust a Move: Dance in the elevator.
8. Bust a Move Together: Better yet, have a 3pm dance party.
9. Eat and Be Merry: Have a “laugh lunch” and watch clips from The Office.
10. Take a Break: Install software like InstantBoss to make sure you take regular breaks throughout the day.

Kick things into higher gear with some motivational tweaks to your every day work and see your productivity shoot through the roof.

11. Be Inspired: Start off each day by watching an inspirational video.
12. Lock-in Inspiration: Create easy-to-remember, hard-to-hack, inspirational passwords.
13. Pump It Up: Get energized for the day by listening to some of your favorite songs on your commute to work.
14. Rock It Out: Create a playlist of fast paced rock music or equivalent; listen to it while doing less than exciting work.
15. Listen Closely: Listen to classical music when you are required to concentrate on one task.
16. Address Yourself: Write a letter to yourself highlighting where you want to be in 3, 6, 12 months and include a silly joke.
17. Motivate: Get a motivational poster.
18. Laugh-tivate: Get a de-motivational poster.
19. Picture the Good Stuff: Get a digital picture frame and fill it with pictures of your friends and family.
20. Provide Some Background: Change your desktop background to something motivational.
21. Lead with Quotes: Include leadership quotes in your email signature.

Bring out your inner-child to break the monotony with good old fashioned fun.

22. Take Aim: Post up a dart board; have a tournament.
23. Build Some Fun: Make a pen bow and arrow.
24. Slink Around: Get a slinky; play with it quietly while talking on the phone.
25. Think Outside the Cube: Learn to solve a Rubik’s cube; share it with others.
26. Score a Touchdown: Play paper football while waiting for a meeting to start.
27. Hit the Deck: Create a personalized deck of cards for your work; play “Go Fish” with them.
28. Tell the Future: Build a “Paper Fortune Teller” using work lingo.
29. Master the Paper Arts: Learn to make an origami crane; make one while you are on a conference call.
30. Fly Around: Make paper airplanes with some of your cubicle mates; see whose can fly the farthest.
31. Look at Things Differently: Get a Magic Eye book for your cubicle; share it with people when they come by.
32. Share Some XOXO’s: Play tic tac toe with a co-worker.
33. Eavesdrop: Read Overheard In the Office; add your own entry.
34. Get Type-Cast: Play a game and get better at typing.
35. Give a Makeover: Give your boss an online makeover, even if your boss is a man.

Enhance your career and have fun by extending and strengthening your network.

36. Dine Together: Go to lunch with someone new each day for a week.
37. Tweet Something: Stay connected with co-workers or friends through microblogging.
38. Be a Freshmaker: Find a mentor; give him/her Mentos for mentoring.
39. Write That Down: Start a blog/newsletter at work on a topic you have passion for.
40. Play Halloween: Set out a bowl of candy at your cube; allow people to have a piece only after they tell you a story or make you laugh.
41. Be a Storyteller: Pick a story from your weekend to share with others.
42. Read the Not News: Find a story on to share at your work lunch or happy hour.
43. Say Thank You: Send a thank you note for something someone did at least once a week.

Improve your team’s communication and listening skills to make the whole greater than the sum of it’s parts.

44. Improvise: Play improv games as a team.
45. Mix It Up: Create work appropriate nicknames for people on your team using anagrams.
46. Be a Pirate: Figure out everyone’s Pirate name on your team.
47. Get Animated: Create Simpson’s avatars for all of your team members.
48. Become Royalty: Find out which Disney Princess you are; watch one of the movies.
49. Author-ize: Work with co-workers to write a book about your workplace.
50. Find a Pin-Up: Make a themed calendar full of pictures of people from your department.
51. Map and Match: Gather trivia about the people in your team; send out a mapping and matching quiz and see who can correctly guess all of the matches.
52. Be Happy for 60 Minutes: Organize a happy hour with your co-workers.
53. Picture This: Photoshop pictures of your team onto a picture of super heroes or celebrities.
54. Get Hip to Facebook: Create a Facebook group for people at your work. Use it to connect socially.
55. Be Diverse: Play Diversity Bingo at your next team gathering.
56. Do Some Branding: Create a logo and theme music for one of your projects; use it whenever you do status updates or send out emails.
57. Decorate: Make thematic “door decs” for the people on your team.
58. Have a Team Name: Name your row of cubicles something indicative of the people or work done there; encourage others to do the same.
59. Praise Others: Send a co-worker anonymous praise.
60. Recognize: Send out a quarterly recognition email recognizing accomplishments of fellow employees and sharing some humor.

Survive the drain of meetings by incorporating some humor into the mix.

61. Play a Song: Learn “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on touch tone phones; play it while waiting for a phone conference to start.
62. Share What You Know: Present a tip/trick like the old “The More You Know” commercials.
63. Learn the Language: If you work internationally, learn a few words and phrases of a language of one of your co-workers; surprise them with it in your next meeting.
64. Pass Notes: Pass a note in a meeting like you did in grade school; make it semi-work related.
65. Lie: Play two truths and a lie during introductions at your next meeting.
66. Give Back: Use your next leadership team meeting to volunteer somewhere in your community.
67. Unleash Your Inner Village Person: Perform YMCA at your next community meeting.
68. Have a Ball: Get a stress ball; toss it back and forth when talking in meetings.
69. Take Note: Take meeting minutes; include fun/interesting/random thoughts you have while in the meeting.

Improve engagement and retention with a little variety and uniqueness in your training materials.

70. Metaphor-ize: Explain your next training using an unlikely metaphor, such as why project management is like getting married.
71. Turn Lemons into Lemonade: Set up a lemonade stand; give out lemonade and teach patrons about your service or project.
72. Get Poetic: Write a poem describing the benefits of what your organization works on.
73. Be a Conductor: Warm up the crowd at your next presentation by conducting a symphony of syllables to pronounce your subject.
74. Act Now: Act out a skit in your next presentation to demonstrate a point.
75. Fill in the Blanks: Start your next meeting with a work related Mad Lib.
76. Simon Says Play: Play Simon Says at your next training session.
77. Embed Meaning: Be like Alfred Hitchock and find a way to work in a picture of yourself or your kids into every presentation; be creative about it.
78. Be Magical: Learn a simple magic trick and use it in your next meeting or presentation.
79. Equate: Come up with your own Albert Einstein equation.
80. Tell a Joke: Include an intentionally silly joke in your next speech. Tie it back to the topic somehow.

Build a stronger community and improve relationships in the entire office with some laid-back, entertaining, office humor.

81. Eat, Greet, Meet: Start a lunch bunch.
82. Play Your Heart Out: Bring in the game Rock Band and have a “concert.”
83. Post a Bulletin: Put a bulletin board in a common area; take turns with your co-workers posting different topics on the board.
84. Get Cartoony: Start a cartoon board, post some funny cartoons.
85. Showcase Your Kids: Create a “look at what my kid made” mural for employees to share their kids’ creations.
86. Prove You’ve Got Talent: Hold a planned talent show.
87. Make It Up: Hold an improvised talent show.
88. Get Lucky: Organize a pot luck lunch with people in your office.
89. Be Gross: Hold a “grossest foods” dessert party.
90. Piece It Together: Put out a jigsaw puzzle in the breakroom for people to work on during a break.
91. Attract the Opposite: Buy refrigerator poetry magnets for the lunchroom.
92. Read and Discuss: Start a business (or fiction) book club at work.
93. Exchange: Organize a book or DVD exchange between co-workers.

Be creative, be humorous, be funny, be random, be happy through a smorgasbord of office fun.

94. Smile: That’s it, just Smile.
95. Live and Laugh: Try to laugh 100 times in a day; it doesn’t matter at what.
96. Ask Questions: Include an off-the-wall question in your next survey, such as “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
97. Get Sketchy: Create a video sketch.
98. Know What’s Going On: Schedule 30 minutes on your calendar every week to read about what’s happening in your industry.
99. Say the Word: Check out Merriam-Webster’s word of the day; see if you can naturally work it into a conversation.
100. Have F.U.N.: Name your next project something that has a silly hidden acronym.
101. Be Original: Brainstorm your own unique way of bringing humor to work.
Using humor in the workplace can be an ideal way to relieve stress, improve morale, and build stronger relationships and team camaraderie between co-workers. Although humor is often encouraged within companies and businesses, there are ways to use humor that will demonstrate your ability to maintain professionalism in the office no matter what the situation. Continue reading this article to learn how you can use humor in the workplace tastefully to lighten stressful situations without offending your co-workers.


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Apply humor to situations instead of people. This will allow co-workers to relate and bond with one another over shared experiences; whereas jokes about a certain individual can offend or insult that particular person and make you appear unprofessional.

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Use humor that your audience can appreciate. This practice can ensure that your jokes will be happily and humorously received without offending anyone. Use humor around co-workers you feel comfortable with, or tailor your jokes to accommodate and entertain a certain audience. For example, if there have been rumors that a certain department in your company will soon be downsized, you may not want to make downsizing jokes in front of people who work in that particular department.

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Take note of your co-worker's moods before joking or using humor with them; as sadness, anger, and other negative moods may cause them to receive your joke with less humor than usual or cause them to feel offended.

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Use humor related strictly to the job. Some topics and jokes that are not relevant to work may offend your co-workers. Make jokes about topics such as difficult customers, company goals, competitors, specific company products, and other topics related to your job.

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Refrain from joking about topics considered to be sensitive or offensive by many individuals and companies; such as politics, religion, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

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Use humor to ease tension in difficult situations. In some cases, humor can potentially diffuse an argument between co-workers and instantly cause employees to relax. Make a joke during a meeting if co-workers are upset or argumentative, or if negative news about the company has recently been announced.

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Use positive humor instead of negative humor. Positive humor can increase productivity and morale among co-workers; whereas negative humor will usually have negative effects on productivity and lower the morale of employees.


Workplace Humor: How To Reduce Stress With Inoffensive Office Humor

  • Think of The Message: Ask yourself what the point, or underlying message, of your joke is. Are you using humor to say something that you wouldn’t say to someone without the joke attached?

  • Know Your Audience: If you’re teasing someone about a physical feature, a scar, for example, do you know them well enough to know if they are comfortable enough with that feature to be matter-of-fact about it, or would mention of it be hurtful?

  • Leave Serious Topics Alone: Don’t joke about topics that are controversial or painful to someone else, like death, physical disabilities, sexual harassment or racial inequalities (or race in general). Just don’t do it. 
  • Be Careful of Politics: While a surprising number of people make political jokes, it’s very important to know your audience, and avoid making political jokes that would offend someone of a different ideology if they’re part of the group. Something that sounds hilarious when Jon Stewart says it might sound crass coming from someone else.
  • When In Doubt, Leave It Out: If you’re not sure how a joke will be received, it’s best not to tell it. Some people say that society is too “politically correct” or that people offended by certain jokes are “too sensitive”, but it’s about respecting the people around you. Nobody wants to be made the butt of jokes, and it’s best to joke about a neutral topic.
  • Emulate Seinfeld, Not The Office: Reruns of Seinfeld, or any of his stand-up routines, provide perfect examples of (mostly) inoffensive but hilarious comedy. Everyone can relate to these jokes because they generally target human nature, the quirks of society, and don’t single out groups based on features like race, sex or other features. Seinfeld makes us laugh at ourselves, and not at the expense of others. Steve Carell’s character on The Office, however, gives perfect examples of what not to do. From belittling people, to constantly adding sexual innuendo by saying, “That’s what she said!” to singling out people based on weight, sex, race and other offensive features, “Michael” is hilarious because he constantly does exactly what you shouldn’t do!

The old saying ”everybody loves a comedian” has regretfully given birth to a time where everybody thinks they’re a comedian. Sadly, what many have failed to realize is the old saying noted above was meant to be sarcastic…We all love good humor, but the truth is all humor is not good. The timely and appropriate use of humor is an asset to any leader. Likewise, distasteful or inappropriately timed humor can be a significant liability.  As a leader it’s quite easy to get a laugh - your title will virtually guarantee it. Therefore it’s important for leaders to become skilled at distinguishing the difference between a compliant chuckle and a sincere chortle. Good humor can bring people closer, but poor humor can be one of the strongest repellents known to man.
Did you hear the one about the pastor, priest and rabbi who went skydiving? Just kidding – The very nature of humor is it’s misunderstood more often than not. This makes humor a proverbial two edged sword – it can slice through the toughest of situations to your advantage, or cut sharply against you. When levity is used to appropriately ease a burden or relieve tension it is greatly appreciated. However when your rapier wit is used as a weapon of humiliation or intimidation you are confusing humor with arrogance. I believe it was Winston Churchill who said: “Humor is a very serious thing.” Just because you find something funny, doesn’t make it so. Put simply, to use humor to mock, belittle, undermine, or attack isn’t good humor, and it’s certainly not good leadership. Remember – many a private tear has been hidden behind a public smile.
One trait that consistently ranks highly among the most admired leaders is they’re confident enough to poke fun at themselves. When leaders understand the difference between false humility (self-serving) and authentic self-deprecating humor (benefiting others) things quickly transition from awkward to funny. Smart leaders have long recognized the best punchline – themsleves. Use the levity surrounding your experiences, mistakes, failures, challenges, etc., to turn teachable moments into unforgettable lessons.
Just because you could, doesn’t mean you should. The mental picture of a whoppie cushion in a board meeting might be funny, but it wouldn’t be appreciated. A general rule of thumb would be if something would get a laugh at a fraternity party, it’s likely not appropriate in the workplace. Jack Benny said: “Gags die, humor doesn’t.” Workplace humor is a tricky thing to be sure, and I’m hopeful the following 8 tips will help keep you from falling down the slippery slope and having your jokes land with a thud:
  1. Don’t confuse being a leader with being a comedian. Leadership is job number one.
  2. An attempt at bad humor is not an acceptable excuse for unacceptable behavior. Racist, sexist, ageist, and other forms of discriminating acts won’t be tolerated because you attempted to cloak them in bad humor.
  3. Use humor to lift people up, not to put them down. Don’t laugh at people – laugh with them.
  4. Don’t force it – if you’re trying too hard to be funny your humor will fall on deaf ears.
  5. Use your humor to make people feel more comfortable rather than more awkward.
  6. Gags and practical jokes should only be used when those on the receiving end find them funny.
  7. Don’t use humor to single someone out, use it to help them acclimate.
  8. Sarcasm is not a license to belittle someone. Saying “I was just joking” doesn’t cut it.

Method 1 of 2: Hugging a Girl You Like

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Wait for the right moment. When you hug a girl is just as important as how you do it, so play it safe by picking a good moment. Three good times are:
  • When you first see her. It's always nice to be greeted by friends with a quick "friends" hug (even if you want to be more than friends).
  • During an emotional moment. Whether you're on the same team that just won a big game, or if she's having a hard day, a hug can be a really good way to reinforce that you're there for her.
  • When you are parting ways. As with the greeting hug, saying goodbye with a hug is a nice, friendly gesture.
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Try to figure out if she'd like to be hugged. Girls make it obvious with their body language when they are open to physical contact. Based on how she is standing, or how she greets you, you can figure out if she is comfortable with you going in for the hug.
  • Signs she is interested:
    • She makes eye contact with you.
    • She plays with her hair around you.
    • Her hips or feet are pointed directly toward you.
    • Her tone of voice is animated and bright when she talks to you.
  • Signs she isn't interested:
    • She doesn't hold your gaze.
    • Her body language is "closed" (crossed legs, folded arms, body turned away).
    • Her tone of voice is flat when she talks to you.

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    Approach her gently. Resist the urge to dive in and hug her as quickly as possible. Instead, take a deep breath and move in at a pace that allows her to decide whether or not she wants to hug you. Make eye contact, move a little bit closer to her, then lift your arms and pull her in.
  • If you've read the signs incorrectly and she doesn't want to be hugged, it's essential that she has a second to back out before you make contact. Otherwise she'll feel forced, and the situation will turn awkward.
  • The upside is that slower movements are generally considered more romantic. So if she does want you to hug her, a smooth and gentle approach will seem all the more intimate.
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Decide how long you're going to hold the hug. The duration of your hug says a lot about what it means to you. Here's a basic guideline to follow:
  • The longer you hold on, the more intimate the hug is. Embraces longer than a few seconds are meant for significant others or close family members.
  • Shorter hugs are more casual. The average "hello" or "goodbye" hug should be about one or two seconds of holding.
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Release. Pull back from the hugging position in one smooth move. Typically, you want to begin to pull back before she does. Ending it a few seconds earlier than you have to can keep the hug from veering into awkward territory.
  • If she starts to let go or you can feel her go limp in your arms, it’s best to just immediately release. The exception to the rule is the "intimate" moment (for example: she's upset and crying or you just kissed) in which its considered appropriate to slowly pull back.
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Finish it off in a cute way. The way you end it should depend on the situation. If you really like this girl, though, the end of a hug is your chance to do something adorable that she'll remember. Try these scenarios:
  • For a casual greeting or goodbye hug, say "I'm so happy to see you!" or "See you later!"
  • For a hug that acknowledges an accomplishment, that often means a congratulations for an award won, a job well done, a wedding, or other significant life moment. Generally, "Congratulations!" is a great thing to say.
  • For a comforting hug, tailor what you say to the situation. "It's OK," or "I'm here," are both good things to say.
  • For the buddy hug, say whatever sparked the hug in the first place. "You're awesome," or "We really rocked that ultimate Frisbee game, didn't we?" is always fun.
  • If it was a more intimate hug, we'll leave those follow-up words to you. Make them count!
Learn about different hugging positions. If you're still nervous, read up on these different hug positions and visualize which one might work best for your particular situation:
  • Slow-dance: Her arms will go upward to around your neck and your arms will go under hers. You can put your arms around her waist or higher up her back. The lower your hands go on her back, the more suggestive the hug is. This can be a very intimate hug—use it wisely.
  • Big bear and little bear: Her arms will go below yours and you will wrap around her back while her arms wrap around your waist. This is a friendlier hug and allows her to be pulled close to you and have her head rest on your chest.
  • One-arm sling: This is the least romantic kind of hug—more of a buddy hug, really. This is when the hugger comes in from the side and wraps one arm around her shoulders or neck, as a casual friendly hug.
  • T-Rex: Both the hugger and the girl’s arms stay around the waist and lower-back area. This will allow for the both of you to rest your heads on each others shoulders. This is going to allow for a friendlier, less suggestive hug.
  • Criss-cross: One arm goes up and the other goes down to create an "x" with your arms and hers. This can lead to the perfect "pull back and kiss" position where both of you still have your arms holding on to each other with enough room to still kiss.
  • From behind: This is a hug you only do with a girl you know well, and unless she likes scary surprises, let her know it's you as you move into the hug. This is a very intimate hug that can lead to very intimate things very easily.

Method 2 of 2: Hugging Friends

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Go with the flow. While, customarily, people have greeted each other with handshakes when first introduced, these days people frequently hug on introduction without thinking twice about it.
  • This is more often seen among groups of friends than one friend introducing you to another friend.
  • Use your instincts, but the best rule of thumb is that if you're offered a hug, go for it.

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Make contact. Remember to keep the physical contact quick and light for hugging friends. Anything more prolonged might be misinterpreted as romantic.
  • Lean in, bending from your waist. The idea here is not full-body contact, which is a much more intimate and personal hug.
  • Wrap one arm around her arm, and place your hand in-between her shoulder blades.
  • Wrap your other arm around her, and place your hand below your first hand.
Hold briefly and release. Two seconds is the ideal length for a friend hug. Let go of her as soon as this much time has passed, and resume conversing as you normally would.