In live interview with NLP Life, Dr Richard Bandler reveals the benefits of humour.
Dr Richard Bandler,
Co-creator of NLP
NLP Life: In a recent seminar you mentioned that humour is your invisible shield. Why is humour so important in your seminars?
Richard Bandler: Well, to me, humour is a tool that, as far as I’m concerned, shields you from the stupidity that’s rampant on the planet.
If you can’t look at how something is funny, you can’t get around it. I listen to people’s tragedy, have done for four decades, and if I empathise with them, then that is the opposite of having a sense of humour. My sense of humour isn’t a cruel one - although I do pick on people. I try to get people to look from a different point of view, which is what humour really is about. You describe the same thing in a different tone of voice and you take it to its logical extreme it becomes humorous.
The notion that we can spend our way out of debt, there isn’t a politician who doesn’t like that idea cause they won’t be around when the bill comes, and when I hear politicians go “We just need spend more money and stimulate the economy” well I’m going “If I could spend my way out of debt, I can’t make a house payment and so I’m going to buy three houses” it just doesn’t make sense. It's ridiculous, and what humour does is get people to start looking at things not from the point of view of how bad it feels but how ridiculous it is.
I’m very fond of saying, to people after they explain to me how stuck they are, “That sounds like a really good plan, doesn’t it?”
Cause they’ll tell me that I think this and then I never try and that feels really bad and the more I feel bad the less I try and I go “Great plan!” It shields me from having to empathise with how much they’re suffering but it also shields them from the same thing. They come up and smirk at me and they’ll go “Well, it’s not a good plan but I can’t help myself” and I said “There’s another good plan”. And then pretty soon they go, “Well, what else can I do? and I go “Well you could do this, you can look at it this way and you maybe see yourself doing this”.
I can give them detailed descriptions of what successful people think about. I don’t try to fix what’s broken, what I try to do is replace it. There are some things that you can restore to perfect condition like an old automobile, but there's something that’s not worth restoring in the first place: a bad idea.
If somebody tells me I’m stupid because I got a low IQ score in high school, I go “Well, that’s really stupid to believe IQ stars. Einstein got bad grades in school. He was bad at Math for heaven's sakes!" And I say, "he did pretty good, actually, we all remember him for one equation."
I said this to these people I met people from the Mensa Society. They may be able to answer obscure questions but most of them can’t get a date. Which one’s smart and which one isn’t?
Over and over again I’ve looked at people who have told me something and I've just asked them the simple question: “Well, is this working for you?” And they look at me and go “No” and I go “Well then maybe you should stop.” And they go “But I don’t know how” and I go “Good, let me tell you. It ain’t that hard."
To me, I’m always using humour in the sense that you chide someone. Chiding is a particular skill that you need to be able to get people out of the crap they’re in. Instead of going ,“Oh, that must be terrible” which just means it’s real, you need to get people to look at it and go “I don’t have to live this way”. When you start chiding people you start going “You don’t have to do this anymore, just step over here”.
It’s the old flirting technique of come away closer. You flirt with people not to marry them, you flirt with people you have the opportunity to find out who they are.
Most people don’t flirt with themselves enough to know what they actually could do. My job is to chide them into trying new ways of thinking, new ways of acting, so that they can have more fun in life and get more stuff done.