23 June 2012

Managing Not to Laugh

From my Crowd-Sourcing post Turnip Ghost asks the question:
How do you manage not to burst out laughing at the things you have to say and the people you have to meet?
I admit that I think this question was meant to be unkind, but let's take the question seriously and break it down into two parts:
Question:  How do I manage not to burst out laughing at the people I have to meet?

Answer:  I'm a Chaplain in a hospital. Most of the people I meet are sick. Either a little bit sick or extremely sick. I don't know about you, but I'm not tempted to burst out laughing when someone tells me they've had a knee replacement or they have cancer.

However, there are times when it seems appropriate to tell a joke so that the person can laugh. I wouldn't make fun of their illness, but I'd try to appeal to their sense of humor. People who laugh and smile get well faster than people who are scared and depressed.
Question: How do I manage not to burst out laughing at the things I say?
Answer: Well, when I tell a joke, I usually know the punch-line already so I don't have to burst out laughing. When I talk about serious matters, I speak about things that I know to be true from my own experience. I don't pretend to be someone I'm not or to have had experiences that I haven't had.

I speak the truths that I have learned from my own life and I present them as such. And I remember that other people experience life differently than I do and that they might not think the same way I do.

I remember that I'm there to help the person in front of me find their own meaning, not to try to convince them to accept my meaning as their own.

No one "has to" believe as you believe or as I believe. Everyone can say no and disagree. A person can tell me that they don't want to speak to me. A person can walk out of a church and not listen to the pastor - and there are some churches that folk should definitely walk out of.

No one needs to feel put down if other people believe differently. Two people can have opposite experiences of the same situation and neither one of them has to be stupid or worthy of being mocked or laughed at. Just be yourself, speak your own truth with kindness and patience.

That's my answer.