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Using Laughter - Humor Can Overcome Crabby Co-Workers
by Tim Gard

Speaker Tim Gard travels. A lot. So he wasn't too surprised when, on his last business trip, the airline lost his luggage. When you're flying around the country on a weekly basis, it's bound to happen. But Gard didn't get mad. Instead, he went up to one of the airline's customer service representatives and pulled out a photo of him hugging his now lost baggage. The words "wish you were here" were printed underneath the photo. The airline representative laughed heartily, went to work immediately and, very shortly thereafter, Gard's luggage was found.

Then the guy asked if he could keep the picture.

Gard, who will be giving the morning address at the Women in Business Conference Wednesday at Broadmoor West, is full of helpful, humorous advice. He's termed a "motivational humorist," but the Colorado resident says he doesn't consider himself a comedian. He just teaches his listeners how to use humor to help deal with their jobs and the people around them. Numerous organizations have hired Gard, whose presentation is titled "Developing a Comic Vision," to teach folks how to laugh to reduce stress. He even goes to the Far East every year to teach the government of Singapore humor. Gard says he tries to show people the "absurdities all around us," and help us learn to laugh at them in a constructive manner. Laughter, he says, is one of the best ways to diffuse stress.

Gard uses plenty of visual aids-toys, actually-to illustrate his point. Many of these toys, called "stress-busters," are readily available from Gard himself. For instance, Gard says one of the biggest complaints at many workplaces is the inordinate number of grumpy people. To help alleviate this. Gard brings along a crab puppet-which he says is perfect for peeking over the edge of a cubicle and asking a stressed-out co-worker if they're feeling "a little crabby today."

"They are reminders for us to act and not react," Gard says. "They are toys, but adults use them to avoid stress and to keep (their sense of) balance." Of course, timing is the key with humor. It's not appropriate to crack jokes when your boss is yelling at you, for instance. And even when the timing is right, the material can be wrong. Some jokes are not appropriate for a workplace environment. "It's one thing for it to be funny, but there has to be value in it, he says. The humor he teaches is "funny, but has a message and a meaning and a value."

Anger, on the other hand, is often devoid of value. And yet people often get angry at things they have no control over. "If you wake up in Colorado Springs and get mad because there's frost on the (car) window, you better get a garage or move someplace warmer," he says.

Copyright Tim Gard. All Rights Reserved.

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