Note: This is a guest post from Dave Ursillo of DaveUrsillo.com
Humor is often the fastest and easiest way to make new friends.
I love meeting new people. To me, one of the most wonderful aspects of life is coming across just a handful of the billions and billions of men and women that live amongst and around us, getting to know their unique stories and personalities, and being able to connect with them on some level.
Meeting new people isn’t always difficult. Through work, school, social events, the weekends and meeting others through current friends, we are presented with ample opportunities to connect with people and make new friends. The difficult part is making a connection with men and women that can outlast the short duration of time that you’ve spent meeting them: how do you establish a connection with someone that can last and that causes you two to become friends?
Lately, I’ve taken a new approach to socializing by making subtle efforts – usually through humor and laughter – to forge meaningful connections with men and women who would at most be described as “acquaintances,” or people that I’ve not known for very long and may never see again. I find some beauty in establishing these sorts of connections with people, realizing that our paths may never cross again, but hoping that the connection we’ve made could last a lifetime. Why bother with the effort? Well, it turns out that these young men and women that I’ve attempted to forge a real connection with in a short period of time have, in several instances, become good friends. I’ve learned two important lessons from these experiences, and I wish to share them with you.
First, humor is the easiest and most effective way to connect with a stranger. Laughter, happiness and smiling are “common denominators” among all human beings: regardless of race, nationality or primarily language, we all naturally recognize, appreciate and connect through smiles and laughter. When it comes to making new friends, laughter and happiness is a simple but highly effective ways to make positive, personal connections to others.
Second, it turns out that making a connection with men and women through humor, happiness and laughter not only helps you make new friends, but it actually is the means to establish a strong, meaningful connection to people. There is something special and sacred amongst human beings when it comes to sharing happiness and positivity. When you share laughter and joy with others, they become happier themselves and desire to share more of the same with you in the future.
With these two lessons in mind, here are seven ways to use humor to make new friends.
1. Be lighthearted
Bringing laughter, happiness and smiling to others is more about being lighthearted than it is about “being funny.” Don’t think of yourself as having to embody the role of a comedian. Just feel happiness, be positive and be lighthearted. Such a mindset is naturally attractive to others, and by embodying happiness you invite others to get to know you better and even open up more themselves.
2. Joke at your own expense
If you’ve just met a group of new people who do not know you, an easy way to get them to know you is to use humor to joke about yourself. Now, there’s a big difference between joking about yourself and being self-deprecating. Saying, “I didn’t get that recent job I applied to… I suck at life!” is not funny. Remember to keep it lighthearted. Instead try, “The last job I applied to turned me down. But that’s okay, because it’s always been my dream to become a stripper.”
3. Be authentic; don’t force it
Don’t break out a notepad full of “Knock-Knock” jokes and don’t start reciting Chris Rock’s latest standup comedy routine. Connecting with people through humor and happiness has to be authentic; it can’t be forced or premeditated. When it feels like you’re trying too hard to be funny or amiable, strangers and new acquaintances will interpret your efforts as inauthentic attempts to overcompensate for something.
4. Be able to take a joke: humility
One of the least attractive qualities in people is when men and women take themselves too seriously. Refusing to laugh at yourself can ultimately reveal a lot about a person. It may say that you are selfish and egotistical, or simply neglect to embrace happiness and humility. Whatever the reason, if you’re going to use humor to make others laugh, you need to expect a joke to be cracked at your expense. If you’re able to take a joke and laugh about it, just think of it as another way of providing happiness and laughter to those around you.
5. Don’t joke at the expense of others
Joking and humor are great ways to make others laugh and forge new connections with people, but you shouldn’t depend upon making jokes at the expense of others. You haven’t yet earned the “friendship cache” of leeway that comes with being friends with someone for a long time, so you shouldn’t joke at the expense of those you’ve just met, who won’t appreciate the insults. Also, don’t fall into the trap of making fun of others around you or a mutual person you know. It may be funny, but ultimately it’s not attractive to mock others.
6. Joke with others in ways that are complimentary to them
If you want to joke with new people you’ve just met, do so in a way that is complimentary to them. You can even infuse a joke about yourself in the process, like, “I really like your dress… but I don’t think it would look as good on me.”
7. Recognize when to use humor and when not to
Think of an awkward or uncomfortable situation: you just met an entire table of new people; you already don’t remember any of their names; and now there is a very awkward silence amongst the group. How do you break the uneasiness? With a joke! Laughing helps overcomes the bridge of social discomfort in any circumstance, and the same applies when you meet new people. That said, you need to realize when using humor makes a situation worse. If you’re at a funeral or when someone tells you about some really unfortunate news, shelve the humor and choose compassion instead.
Dave Ursillo is a writer, dreamer and self-described “Renegade.” His self-improvement and personal development blog, DaveUrsillo.com, encourages men and women to embody “Renegadeism,” a defiant attitude of positivity in spite of what feels like an increasingly cynical world. Follow Dave on Twitter.