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Voices of the Global Community


John Wagner

Advising higher education students is important work and is fast becoming stressful work. Students have higher service expectations while administration applies cost containment pressure: ’do more with less, faster, with higher quality’. Information technology conversions, new releases, and upgrades constantly challenge us to use IT to better to serve students. The positive power of humor can help us avoid stress, stay balanced and ready to have fun designing and building bridges to success for our students.

Let’s look at “The Three R’s”---Responsibility, Relationships, and Recognition in using humor in our important work.

Each of us has a choice about all that we do. Because we have a choice, we have response-ability: the ability to choose our response to the challenges we will face. But we can take ourselves lightly while we take our jobs, life, and responsibilities seriously. If you experience a failure or setback, accept responsibility, laugh it off, learn from it, and do all you can to make it right quickly. If you experience a conflict, don’t turn it into a contest with a win or lose outcome. Use your sense of humor to become flexible enough to use the energy of the conflict to creatively generate positive possibilities. Laughter helps us flex and loosen-up; it is healing. When you choose to laugh more, all you can loose is some body fluids. Remember to LAUGH!

Positive, supportive, and cooperative relationships are essential for success. We can control only ourselves; we can only influence others. When we try to control or force others to change, we risk loosing control of ourselves. Positive humor is a powerful influence. Be happier by being an encourager of others; believe in and encourage yourself. It is more fun, productive and efficient to work playfully with others toward a common goal. Choose to accept that each of us is a unique and special person with our own view of life. Learn to celebrate the uniqueness and look for the common thread of humanity that connects us all. Positive humor and smiling enhances communication. When you smile, get your whole face into it; raise your eyebrows, it will make you look taller. Remember to SMILE!

High self-esteem will enhance achievement. Build self-esteem by recognizing all positive efforts. (Especially those little efforts, they add up.) Be an encourager. The best way to raise your self-esteem is to raise someone else’s. Use positive humor to make recognition more acceptable and meaningful. Use humor to accept reality, maintain a positive perspective, and build bridges to a future success reality. Be optimistic, and joyful. Replace all pity parties with effort recognition events. Recognition only works with three types of people - men, women and children. Remember to CELEBRATE!

There is a choice in everything you do. Keep in mind the choices you make - make you. Choose to Laugh, Smile and Celebrate as you build those bridges.

Cite this article using APA style as: Wagner, J. (2004, September). Humor helps us build bridges. Academic Advising Today, 27(3). [insert url here]


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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.