BLOG: Using Surprise & Humor to Diffuse a Tense Situation

Learn how to use two effective tools to diffuse a tense situation. They can help with being bullied, responding to nasty remarks, and more!

With so much in the news about bullying, both at school and in the workplace, it might be a good idea to investigate how surprise and humor can be effective tools that you might want to stock in your “arsenal”.  If you or someone you know has been the victim or bullying or some type of assault, try using these tools in a conscious, productive way.

We must, first of all, learn to laugh at ourselves.  It will release the tension within us.  So someone called you a name or made a disparaging remark about your appearance.  Now won’t that person be surprised by this retort:  “Wow! You know I couldn’t have said it any better myself!  Thanks, Pal!”

Now that’s using surprise and humor in a nutshell.

When I was in grade school and wore eyeglasses, there was a boy who always called me “Four Eyes”.  Of course, at the time I knew nothing about using surprise and humor and I must admit that I was offended. However, years later, all grown-up and looking very chic, I walked into a gathering where this guy stood, gawking at me and attempting to make a flattering remark.

One of my very favorite examples of how a person overcame bullying is the story of June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Commander Dick Scobee of Challenger 7.  In her book, Silver Linings, she relates how she dealt with the very people who bullied her when she was a child – that is, after she had sat with presidents and royalty.

Another compelling account is what happened to an AVP facilitator as she was walking home from the library in New York’s Central Park area.  She sensed that she was being stalked by a man who was walking close behind her so she suddenly turned around, exclaiming “Oh! I’m so glad to see you”, thrusting the pile of books into his hands.

As they walked on to her apartment complex, she engaged him in conversation and he admitted that he had planned to rob her.  She smiled and simply said, “Yes, I know.”

Of course, not all of us would have the guts to do what she did but if surprise and humor work in a situation like this, then we can be reasonably sure that it will work in less dramatic situations.

There are people walking around us, like time bombs ready to explode. With a warm smile, a light-hearted remark like “I really like that ___ you’re wearing!” or something off the cuff with humor being aimed at ourselves, we can turn a potentially aggravating and even harmful situation into a positive experience.

Just remember:  Laughter IS the best medicine and a dose of playful surprise doesn’t hurt either!                            

Answers to last week’s quiz: 1.  Jesus Christ     2. Chloe JonPaul

Person #1 ~ Jesus Christ:   Statements can be verified in the Gospels.

Person #2 ~ Chloe JonPaul :  Two statements require more detailed information.

Arrested and jailed in 2002: This occurred when I came to the aid of an Iraq War vet who was attempting to march in the 4th of July parade in Washington, D.C.  Police arrested him and threw him into the paddy wagon.  When I saw that, I approached the police and told them that they would have to arrest me also because there was no way I was going to let that young man go to jail alone.

Hung out with drug dealers and prostitutes:  Yes, and add to that murderers and rapists.  I was the lead facilitator for the alternatives to violence Project doing conflict resolution workshops in the MD State Prison system for over 10 years.



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Steve Davies October 22, 2012 at 08:38 PM
or even "defuse"


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