Prescribing creativity and humour in our relationships
Humour is universal, and it is considered the most creative aspect of language. Humour is, therefore, one of the most important topics in the study of communication. The benefits of a healthy sense of humour has long been recognized: our ability to laugh, feel joy and happiness helps us appreciate the beauty in any loving relationship. The sharing of humour and laughter, in fact, plays a significant part in social bonding. Women are attracted to men who make them laugh while men are attracted to women who laugh at their humour (Martin, 2007). It has also been shown that, in a long-term relationship, women’s humour may be even more important for the maintenance of a relationship.
The child in us
‘Falling in love’ is very often related to an uncontrollable and crazy feeling. Similarly, creativity is also associated with being free, crazy and uninhibited. Maintaining love means maintaining this ‘falling in love’ syndrome throughout your life. Both humour and creativity use spontaneity and surprise to activate a smile and a feel-good factor. Both sets of skills can bring out ‘the child in you’, which is one of the keys for success in a relationship. An unexpected ‘I love you’ note or a bunch of red roses, an impulsive hug, a spontaneous kiss, a sudden invitation to swim with the dolphins all contribute to a sincere and inspired smile. The child in us triggers fun, relaxation and happiness. The child in us also helps us use ‘self-deprecation’ in those moments in which we need to be human. Being able to laugh and share our imperfections and our embarrassing moments can induce potential joy while also playing a significant part in social bonding.Our quality of life is killed if we suffer from a deficiency in humour dosage.
Stuttering, Creativity and Humour
What about humour and relationship to clients in the therapeutic setting? In anything one does, passion is essential. I, for example, ampassionate both in my work as a speech language pathologist and fluency specialist, as well as in my interest in humour research. It just happened that both fields crossed paths, which led me to study attitude changes towards communication when using creativity and humour during intervention. Findings from the research provided a framework for the ’Smart Intervention Strategy (SIS)’ for school-age children who stutter (Agius, 2009; 2012; 2013; 2015) which includes components of humour and creative expression through creative thinking skills. Humour and creativity are frequently used as effective catalysts for change. Simone might be a good example. She had just graduated from Law School, and as a person who stuttered, Simone perceived her condition negatively. She wanted to apply for a job with a well-established, renowned law firm in the United States. She thought her chances were very slim. We worked on the curriculum vitae and under the ‘languages section’ we wrote ‘English Plus’ and ‘French Plus’. Obviously, the first thing she was requested to clarify during the interview was this ‘plus’ issue. With a smile, Simone confidently said that she stuttered in English and that is a ‘plus’. Jokingly she told them that she was sure that none of the interviewers knew how to stutter as good as she did. Not only that, but she also stuttered in French. The interviewers were fascinated with the interesting information on stuttering, on famous people who stutter and the different theories on stuttering. They noticed that stuttering did not interfere with Simone’s effective communication. She was smart, creative, interesting, persuasive, caring and human. Simone was recruited for the job and still works for this ‘celebrity lawyer’s firm’ in Los Angeles.
A new angle
Both creativity and humour were used to positively shift Simone’s perception towards communication. Her self-worth improved, and she was happier and more confident in herself. The client-clinician relationship developed into a very healthy and much essential therapeutic alliance:an alliance based on respect and sincerity. When Simone found her soul mate,I was honoured to be her ‘best man’ in their wedding.
Humour and creativity can provide a new insight about a problem and allow for a wider degree of objectivity. In creativity we say ‘ah-ha’ while in humour we use ‘ha-ha’. The therapeutic (creativity and humour) ‘ha-ah-ha’ techniques include activities leading to shifting perceptions and activating the ‘real’ smile. By playing with words and encouraging self- deprecation we can become capable of taking ourselves lightly and our profession seriously (Agius, 2018). Humor can be used in a therapeutic relationship to lubricate the therapy process. It builds solidarity, creates a relaxed atmosphere and encourages communication particularly on sensitive issues. Both humour and creativity broaden perception and help us look at ourselves from a new angle. The bottom line is that shared humour and laughter plays a significant part in social bonding.
- Both humour and creativity use spontaneity and surprise. They can bring out ‘the child in you’. This is one of the keys for success in a relationship.
- Humour is as a catalyst for change.
Agius, J. (2009) School-Age Children who Stutter: Attitude Changes following a Thinking Skills Program. The Journal of Stuttering Therapy, Advocacy and Research, 3, 112-130.
Agius, J. (2012) The ‘Smart Intervention Strategy’ for School Age Children who Stutter. Special Issue Logopedie: Speech Fluency, 2, 4-11.
Agius, J. (2013) Application: Fluency: Smart Intervention Strategy. Category: Education, Language: English, Developer: Vioside, Requirements: Compatible with iPad.
Agius, J. (2015) Fluency SIS: Smart Intervention Strategy. Procedia- Social and Behavioural Sciences. 193, 7-12.
Agius, J. (2018) Shifting perceptions: Using creativity and humour in fluency intervention. Forum Logopedyczne. 26, 49-61.
Martin, R. (2007) The Psychology of Humour. Academic Press.