Humor in Coaching – Yes, no, maybe?
Although everyone knows what humor is, I always find useful going back to the definition. It usually brings additional clarity to initial question. Wikipedia defines humor as tendency of experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement.
The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humours controlled human health and emotion.
So, as a communication tool, humor brings into interpersonal relation two main ingredients:
- the ability to provoke laughter
- the ability to experience a funny or amusing message
As such, humour can be an important tool in coaching (primarily in Co-Creating the Relationship, International Coaching Federation).
However, since it’s hard to do it well and easy to do it badly, most coaches tone it down. Instead of using it as a tool that can help with client’s relaxation and rapport building, coach tend to take themselves and process way too seriously and in general avoid it. Most coaches are afraid to endanger trust and safety by using it, but they miss that one of the ICF indicators of cultivating trust and safety is
demonstrates openness and transparency as a way to display vulnerability
Coaching with a sense of humor does not make one less professional, in fact, it can open up new possibilities and make a coach more relatable. If it use properly, humor can lighten a mood and bring a sense of companionship to coach-client relationship.
When people laugh, endorphins are released. Endorphins give a feeling of well-being and supports client to think effectively. Most productive humor cannot be planned on the coach’s part but it can be trained. In order to do that, first thing that is needed is to allow yourself to follow your intuition and let it comes out, surprises and lightens the atmosphere.
Here are my top five reasons why humour is not just possible but really important for mastery in co-creating coach-client relationship:
- Clients will enjoy working with you
- Humour is a potent stress buster
- It is humanizing
- Humour is an important ingredient in creative thinking
- It boosts morale
So… don’t take yourself too seriously, after all this is coaching, not accounting.
Your partner is another human being, so bring the lightness in this process of co-creation.