Today is the official, and final, voting day for Americans to elect the highest office in the Nation. While I do not endorse any particular candidate over another, there is one who recently used humor to solve a problem and produce an intended outcome, which is something I admire.
Throughout her Presidential Campaign, Hillary Clinton was repeatedly asked by the Press about Donald Trump’s potentially superior qualifications to be President of the United States based on his business experience. The basis for this was the assumption that “he must know more because he’s written 15 books about business”.
Her initial response was to detail the facts about her 30+ years of government experience, concentrating on how her positions required a vast amount of business savvy, especially as Secretary of State as well as her business experience with the Clinton Foundation. All of this certainly supported her credentials claims, but it wasn’t until she strategically used humor to address the issue that it was effectively diffused.
“He’s written a lot of books about business. They all seem to end at Chapter 11…Go figure.”
To my knowledge, that particular topic hasn’t come up again since.
The Science of Solving Problems with Humor
Of course someone on her staff likely wrote that line for her, and granted, she didn’t deliver it perfectly, as ideally she would have stopped at the punch words “Chapter 11”. If she would have left out the words “go figure” , the overall impact would have been much more powerful. Somewhere at the Clinton headquarters a speechwriter heard her step on her best punch line ever… and cringed.
Regardless of anyone’s perspective about minor flaws in (or debates over the) ‘best techniques’ for delivering a powerfully humorous statement, Secretary Clinton none the less accomplished her goal of undermining Trump’s business credibility and brought that particular conversation to a final stop. Will the joke win her the election? That’s not my point. The line did however help to “humanize” her, making her more relatable, which finally laid the issue to rest .
You don’t have to be a comedian to harness humor as a communication skill. Anyone and everyone can learn to use it as a part of their communication strategy.