You’re Not Funny — Keeping a Positive Perspective

Last month a reader cancelled his subscription with a note:
“You’re not funny.”

It’s not the first time I’ve heard that.  Nor will it be the last.

I’ve had over 200,000 people laugh at me, mostly at my programs.
And in my office you’ll find a shelf with 100 trophies which say
I’m funny.  But regardless of how I fill a meeting room with
laughter, there will always be people who think I’m not the
slightest bit funny.  Some people say that 2% of people won’t like
you no matter who you are or what you do.

Not to mention the fact that this newsletter isn’t about the jokes.
I’m not normally trying to be funny.  And I hope our dearly
departed subscriber is happily laughing somewhere else on the web.

Intellectually knowing that a small percentage of people will not
like us, no matter what we do, doesn’t keep us from flinching when
we receive negative feedback.  We want to fix the situation.
Explain why they’re wrong.  Win them back. Even though the better
solution is to bid them goodbye, wish them well, and thank them for
the feedback.

I replied by thanking him for the feedback and referred him to
three websites which were focused more on jokes and comedy.

Last month, a humorist friend experimented with a bold Ezine
headline, using a borderline, four-letter word to attract
attention.  Receiving a small number of complaints, he chose to
respond to his entire list, apologizing for his choice of words.
And then someone complained, accusing him of being self-promotional
by apologizing!  You can’t win.  The bottom two percent live there.
They’ve moved in, paid their rent for years in advance and they
can’t be evicted.  Don’t waste any of your emotional energy trying
to change that.

So when you receive a negative comment:  Say thank you and move on.

If you must focus on the pointed feedback, spend your time
searching for the growth opportunity. How can the feedback make you
a better person?  How can it enable you to work better with other
people? Can you find some humor in the situation?

A good approach is to remember that the other person is always
right.  Their truth is their opinion based on their perception.
And they’re entitled to their viewpoint.  And your truth is simply
your opinion.  Nobody owns the truth.  Although we usually think
that WE do.  And we’re wrong.  All we own is our opinion. 

Opinions are neither truth nor fact.  Your opinion is right.
The other person’s opinion is right.  And the one who copes with
the difference is the winner.

So when you’re delivering humor from the platform and you receive
negative feedback (maybe they don’t laugh or a heckler contributes
his or her opinion), don’t flinch. Don’t apologize.  Don’t explain
the joke.  Don’t assume you failed.  Here is what may have happened
while you were speaking:

1. Your listeners might have been quiet Norwegians, like me,
laughing on the inside.

2. They may have been sleepy.

3. They might have been worrying about personal problems.

4. They may have been trying to think of a tactful way to give
their phone number to the attractive stranger sitting next to them.

5. They may have eaten the wrong combination of foods for lunch.

And here’s what they may have been thinking while listening to your
speech:

1. “I could do better.”

2. “I should have written that speech.”

3. “You remind me of my ex-spouse.”

4. “I dare you to make me laugh.”

5. “My life stinks.”

Get the picture?  It probably isn’t about you.  It’s normally about
their needs and shortcomings. 

And since it’s likely that the negative feedback is coming from
that 2% of bottom feeders, ask yourself, “Is it likely that THEY
are winners who are happy, successful, balanced people with lots of
friends?”  Not likely.  Therefore, they have not earned the right
to push your buttons. They do not deserve the right to control your
emotions. They are not significant.  They don’t count.  Never let
them ruin your day.

And even if it is you…get over it.  I always figure that it’s not
their job to give me strokes.  Look for the lessons.  Learn and
grow.  That’s what makes you thrive.  They’re giving you a gift.

And one final thought.  When you recognize how other people’s
negative comments affect you…make a commitment that YOU will not
be one of those cellar dwellers.  Get into the habit of giving more
compliments than criticism.  This takes focus and effort.  You’ll
feel better.  The people around you will be happier and more
productive.  And you’ll find that fewer negative people will live
in your neighborhood.