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Welcome to the world’s first SMALL BIZ Alphabet Series of blog posts!




What’s “funny” to you may not be to others… imagine that!  So we who run our own small businesses (or small pieces of big businesses) might do well to be reminded thatHey, didja hear the one about the the guy with the parrot . . .? may not be the best kind of opening with a disgruntled employee, angry supplier, or irate customer.

In fact, the parrot joke (or any joke!) is probably not a great thing to share with anyone who’s come to you with wrinkled brow, mouth turned down, hands balled into fists, or who’s (defensive) folded arms are noticeable only second to being glared at over the tops of their glasses. Others do not always understand or accept what you mean.  

So, to make the best of things, smiling and laughing your way through it all is not always in your best business or personal interests, or those of the other individual or group you’re dealing with. The solution? Observe carefully and think twice, before opening your “funny story” mouth once.

Pretend for a moment that you are standing in line at a customer service center counter. You are holding a product you had saved up for and cheerfully purchased in time to enhance the upcoming weekend visit (your first) with your fiance’s parents. You know they would be impressed.

Yet when you went to put the thing together, parts were missing, directions were not in English, and the major component was cracked.

Here you stand, patiently quiet but shifting your feet as you try to decide if you should put the thing down on the floor or keep holding it. Each of the three people ahead of you takes 15 minutes to tell their 10-second story. As you stoop to pick up the damaged goods, which you thankfully decided to plant between your feet, guess what?  [Are you breathing?]

The customer service rep, who never noticed you anyway, apparently decided it was as good a time as any to leave, putting a “Gone To Lunch” sign on the counter and, in one quick whirl, disappear out the swinging door. You and the four others behind you stand there dumbfounded. The five of you start jabbering.

The manager notices the commotion, and strides up to the annoyed gathering with a smile and big greeting, followed by:

“You guys [3 of the 4 are women] remind me of the time when my uncle Louie went to the local pistol range [2 of the 4 had large peace-symbol jewelry showing] and the instructor asked Louie if he’d be using his gun , ha-ha-ha-ha, to shoot him for having to take his lunch hour at that very moment, ha-ha-ha-ha. You’ll have to return later.”  


You can imagine –as radio’s beloved Paul Harvey used to say– the rest of the story. This contrived incident may seem amusing from a distance, but trying to be funny at the wrong time in the wrong place with the wrong people will almost definitely succeed at making a bad situation worse.

Humor, real humor that turns on smiles and laughs comes from the heart and the guts, not an aspirin bottle. It is not a quick fix. It is an honest flowing response delivered in good judgement to those who have provided some clue that indicates they will appreciate your offering. Good humor is a gift. Real gifts are never forced.


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Hal@Businessworks.US    302.933.0116

Open  Minds  Open  Doors

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