How To Use Humor To Resolve Conflict

Turn Oh-Oh's into Ha-Ha! Resolve conflict with humor. Humor is a powerful tool to unite parties in conflict. Do this by poking fun at the problem not the person. Humor is a critical thinking skill that helps to resolve conflict in unexpected ways.

We've all heard that laughter is the best medicine, and it's true. Laughter relieves stress, elevates mood, enhances creativity, and makes you more resilient. But it’s not just good for your emotional and physical health. It’s also good for your relationships. Laughter brings people closer together and creates connection. And it’s an especially powerful tool for managing conflict and reducing tension when emotions are running high.

To improve any relationship, you can learn to use humor and play to smooth over disagreements, lower everyone's stress level, and communicate in a way that builds up the relationships rather than breaking it down.

Many years ago I became a student and performer of stand up comedy. One of the key lessons comedians learn is to mine their lives for material. Ironically, the best material lies in situations with high conflict. I discovered the power of using humor in conflict during an argument with a close friend. As the argument heated up I grew upset, bothered, and irked by the situation. I even felt physically hot. Then in a flash I thought "Ooh, that was a good come back, I need to write that down, where's my notebook?" In that very moment I blurted out my thoughts. My friend busted out laughing and broke the tension.

Laughter is the closest distant between two people. The best laughs are hidden in conflict.

Conflict is no laughing matter...or is it? (I say with a mad scientist stare into space rubbing my hands). Also why do mischievous thoughts involved rubbing hands together? Seriously though, don't take yourself too seriously.

A quick primer on humor:

Definition: As a noun humor i s a mood or state of mind . As a verb: to comply with the wishes of (someone) in order to keep them content, however unreasonable such wishes might be .

So if humor is both a state of mind AND a desire to comply, isn't that the core of conflict as well? So, humor is literally the other side of conflict...what?? No way? Yes friend....way!


How do I make shift happen (hee-hee)? How I get other people to comply? Or perhaps get us both to compromise?


Step 1: Pay Attention to your feelings and thoughts about your feelings.

Step 2: Comment on your silly/funny thoughts. Poke fun at yourself or the problem NOT the other person.

Step 3: Observe verbal and non-verbal cues to make sure your jokes are easing tension.

This is not an easy skill to learn. Turn humor thinking into a habit. The key is paying attention to how you FEEL. Then Notice what you are THINKING about your feelings. Pay attention to yourself talk. There are gems of humor hidden in what you are thinking and feeling about the moment.

Here's how to defuse with humor:

Make humorous observations about YOURSELF. What you are thinking, feeling, even physically doing. Make fun of yourself NOT the other person.

  1. Notice what you are feeling: Strange, weird, awkward, uncomfortable, silly, embarrassing, etc. Really pinpoint the feeling of the moment.
  2. Comment on your inner dialogue. "No idea why I just did that hand gesture, but there is it" "Yup, that sounded as silly in my head as it did coming out"

3. Notice if your "jokes" are having a positive impact at diffusing the situation. If the other party is not laughing. Give them a moment. Their emotions may be too high and not ready to laugh.

By infusing humor effectively, YOU shift your mood and state of mind. Resolution starts with you. Use humor wisely it's a powerful force that heals.

Brooklyn DicentComment