31 March 2017
The legs have it
Anne Marie Forsyth, CEO, CCA
Tomorrow is of course April Fools’ day ironically ending a tumultuous week where many may feel that the triggering of Article 50 is no laughing matter. And yet humour has been a constant since the vote to leave in June last year with Twitter feeds awash with witty satire and silliness.
The Daily Mail caused a furore earlier this week by featuring a front page spread of PM Theresa May's legs, sitting aside Nicola Sturgeon whose legs were equally prominent. Critics took to the airwaves in droves arguing that to reduce such a critical meeting of minds to that of legs on show was an attack on women and trivialised the serious nature of the issue. The response from the Daily Mail was a robust 'get a life' rebuke, there's more than enough serious debate and a little humour doesn't go amiss.
So who's right? Well like most things it depends on situation and skill, one man's joke is another man's insult. It was hard not to laugh at one witty observation from Brussels that the letter which travelled overnight from Theresa May’s office to the President of the EU was delivered by Dexys Midnight Runners; the pun being ‘Dexit’, the Department for Exit - or the Spotify Brexit playlist including 'If you leave me now' and 'Can't get by without you.' There was even a claim that perhaps the wrong letter had been delivered like the Oscars last month, or in fact the vote was fake news.
Chatting to one of our CCA partners this week we laughed about how humour can arise in the most unexpected situations; in her case a terse and difficult call to the tax office following an error in an annual return was sorted by a humorous exchange, once it was clear that the error was simply an oversight and not a deliberate action. In this case, it could have been so different with scope for misunderstanding and lack of empathy leading to an unpleasant experience. I'm often struck with how much humour is woven into our everyday experiences with services we connect to, where experienced colleagues can make a bad situation better with a gut feel for when humour is appropriate..... or not.
On a recent holiday flight the cabin assistant managed to have the whole plane in stitches with his antics in selling duty free products; generally, most passengers bury their faces in a magazine until they have passed. In this case everyone seemed to be taking part and I'm sure the sales figures proved a point.
We often assume that all customers are time poor and enraged; the only reason to engage is when things go badly wrong. But humour is often introduced by the customers themselves; sometimes inadvertently! Sadly, the brand positivity from good humour often goes unacknowledged in the wider organisation, and in the wider world where instead we are hard-wired to look for and report on negativity and problems.
Let's face it, we have at least two years of blow by blow media coverage taking us through Brexit, we will need a good shot of humour to keep us sane, regardless of whether we voted to leave or remain. And in our working lives a sense of humour is no bad thing to ease the pain of our increasingly connected always on existence.
So let's celebrate April Fool's day with a wry smile or a belly aching laugh; in the words of Mark Twain, 'Humour is the good natured side of truth' or 'Humour is a reminder that however high the throne one sits on, one sits on one’s bottom.