Should You Joke In Crisis Communications?


How's that for the shortest answer to a post, possibly the shortest ever? 

Jokes are okay if they are used and taken in the right context. However, when we are dealing with angry, sad, and emotional people jokes are never okay. When we are emotional we want to be heard, to have someone listen, and importantly for someone to empathise.

There is no doubt that laughter is one of the best medicines for stress. Laughter creates endorphins, the feel-good natural drug. Laughter can increase blood flow, relax muscles, improve the immune system and relieve pain. Laughter is also very good at quickly changing your mood from sad to happy. It does this by changing our thoughts and you know that our mood is mostly that, just a thought. 

There are some exceptions to making jokes in crisis communications;

  1. If you know the person extremely well and the crisis is a small one!

That's it, just the one that I can think of. When you make a joke during crisis communications there are many risks despite your best intentions. It may appear that you are making a joke about a serious situation therefore not taking the matter seriously or the joke may be taken the wrong way.

Sometimes our brain will tell us to make a joke if it thinks that we need levity to ease tension. Resist, it's just your brain messing with you. In a few days time you can re-tell the story and introduce the joke top get a laugh.