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Forbes: Misjudged jokes are no laughing matter. So when should CEOs use humor?

29 Feb 2024
CEOs are not comedians but using humor is still beneficial if they think careful when and how to use it.

Originally found at Forbes

“Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt. So bankrupt, you can’t believe it.”

Elon Musk issued this statement on April Fool’s Day in 2018. It may have been an obvious attempt at humor, but not everyone saw the funny side, especially as there have been several bleak reports by analysts. As a result, Tesla shares plunged by almost 7%.

It is tempting to leap to the conclusion that CEOs should steer clear of comedy. But that would be a tragic mistake. Not only would the world lose out on a few great laughs, but under the right circumstances, humor can be quite affective. In a survey I conducted on LinkedIn 89% of the 512 respondents said that CEOs should make jokes.

As Andreas König, Benno Stöcklein, and Dominik Bong from the University of Passau, Nathan Hiller from Florida International University, and Cecily Cooper from University of Miami note in their recent article, there is plenty of empirical evidence suggesting that humor is a great vehicle to communicate new ideas, point out logical discrepancies, or address sensitive issues. In other words, it helps leaders open the minds of their audience.

Continue reading the original article at Forbes.

Read the original research in Academy of Management Review.

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