The Power of Levity
Have you noticed that many successful and memorable speakers begin their presentation with a joke or a funny story? There is nothing that can substitute for a good laugh, a quiet chuckle or a warm smile when it comes to building rapport with someone or with a crowd. I have to admit that my primary objective when I encounter someone for the first time is to bring a smile to his/her face. After that, everything is easy…for both of us. And by the way, if we have a chance encounter again, the smile reflexibly returns.
We humans have a natural response to other people that often reflects our last encounter with them. We might grimace at the site of an ornery volunteer and delight in seeing the always friendly custodian.
Our donors respond the same way. While it may not come naturally to everyone, being able to bring levity into the mix of a relationship will always pay dividends. You don’t even need to be a humorous person to get a similar response…simply smiling will do the trick. Our brains are wired with “mirror” neurons that have us reflect back what we see in others. Ever notice what you do when you walk into a room and someone gives you a big welcoming smile? You smile back! And if you are smiling, you are feeling lighter, and are less threatened and more engaging.
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” ― Charles Dickens
Norman Cousins spent a great deal of time examining the power of laughter and considered laughter “a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration. It is an igniter of great expectations.” And he thought that “if something comes to life in others because of you, then you have made an approach to immortality.” That is our job after all, to help bring a little immortality to others.
Often, when I ask someone for a large gift as part of my work, I will ask them to “tell me if I have not asked for enough.” This has two affects – one is that sometimes they were thinking of a larger gift size, and it always evokes a smile and a chuckle. What better frame of mind to have a donor in when just having asked them for a gift.
“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” ― Mark Twain
“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.” ― Maya Angelou
All great reasons to keep it light.
1. There is no faster way to building rapport than with a smile and a laugh.
2. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud (now and then), it builds trust and is contagious.
3. What better way to greet or be greeted than with a smile.
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