April 1, 2014


If you want people to trust you, be wary of using humor. That's because a joke is a trick — things aren't what they seem. There's a twist in meaning. If they’ve heard the joke before, you risk looking like a copycat — or a plagiarist if you create the impression that you’re the author.

Do you want to be associated with trickery? Do you want to leave a slight doubt about your truthfulness. Maybe you’re a master and people have trouble instantly telling whether you’re serious or funny.  Congratulations, but what have you really accomplished?


Your humor might not be understood or appreciated. We meet people of different ages, cultures and experiences. We don't know what's going on in their heads. What if they’re dealing with personal pain. Maybe they need to laugh but you add to their anguish by being insensitive by mistake. How does that lead to business?
Example: Toyota
At a Toyota dealership, we asked to test drive a Highlander. The sales rep said "No" and then after seeing our surprised expressions added "just kidding".

The harm was already done. We weren't there for a laugh (or to be laughed at).

We might have been receptive if we were in a different mood. We were visiting our third vendor that evening. The first place didn't have a Highlander available (even though I drove one that afternoon and made an appointment). The second place didn't have a Highlander in the showroom and no one was available to talk to us. We were at the third place and already tired.

We eventually got our test drive but were discouraged to save time by not going on the highway. The rep joked again: we should go to another dealership for a proper city/highway test drive and then return to buy from him. Really?

Related: The best buying experience revisited


You needn't be 100% serious either. Please don't! You can’t bore people into buying. I’ve tried!

You don't need to tell jokes to show you see the lighter side of life. You exude your personality by what you say and especially by what you do over time. A good sense of humor is one of the seven components of dynamic personal influence.

April Fools Day Classics

When I was in university, the London Free Press ran a BMW ad showing their latest innovation: an engine which ran on fuel extracted from raw potatoes. As a non-chemist, the details looked semi-plausible. The conclusion? In the future, we’d fill up at the grocery store rather than the gas station.

I'll (now) admit that I was fooled, but no one knew.


PS Save the chuckles for your buddies at the bar, especially if you use banker jokes — the ones where only the tellers laugh.

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