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Whatever Business You're In, It's the People Business


Why humor is priceless in business

I've got an informative business tale to tell. It begins with a tiny tail -- the one attached to my better eighth, a very cute little miniature terrier named Maxine.

I often multi-task by walking Maxine and doing errands, especially errands like going to the bank or FedEx (FDX), where I know there might be long lines. I figure Maxine might benefit from some good heavy petting, while all those bored and impatient people can get some good licks in. The playful warmth exchanged is very win/win.

I recently had a major computer meltdown, and so invited Maxine along on my excursion to the local computer store, knowing they always have lines so long, they actually give out bakery tickets to keep track of the entourage.

About 40 minutes passed before my number was called. Thankfully for me (and Steve, the very exhausted computer attendant who had called my number) my waiting time had passed in good spirits, because Maxine had made many friends, all of whom she'd generously introduced me to.

I arrived at a very fatigued Steve's desk in a playful mood, rather than the typical foul mood one would expect of a customer whose laptop had crashed and had to wait nearly an hour, only to be told an exorbitant price to amend the situation.

I tried to bargain with Steve. But Steve kept telling me no, then NO. (And in sort of the same stern voice I use to tell Maxine NO when she wants to partake of the dinner my boyfriend and I are sharing.) But because I was in a playful mood, rather than give up, I adlibbed a joke.

I held up Maxine, so her sweet puppy dog eyes stared Steve directly in his dog-tired face, and said: "Maybe you can say no to a discount for me -- but can you look Maxine directly in her eyes and tell her we're not getting a discount?"

Steve laughed. Heartily.

The next thing I knew, Maxine had snagged me a bonus 15% off discount. And Steve's mood had risen far more than 15%. He actually began smiling.

The business lesson here? No, it's not to bring a dog with you when you negotiate salary or interview for a new job. It's to bring a sense of humor and lots of warmth. Which brings us to…



I've witnessed many times how my edgy sense of humor during meetings and interviews has given my career a boost. I remember once back in my ad days, a particular joke I made at interview's end clinched me a job offer.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

© Karen Salmansohn

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