Improve employee engagement and customer service through the use of humour – Interview with Dave Keeling


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The Three Gigglers

Today’s interview is with Dave Keeling, who is 6′ 2″, ginger, a professional actor and has been a ‘stand-up’ educationalist for over 10 years. Dave has recently published a book called: The Little Book of Laughter: Using humour as a tool to engage and motivate all learners. Whilst the book is primarily aimed at people in education, I believe there are lessons and parallels for how we build teams, develop them and create engaged employees. I also thought it’d be great to finish the series of interviews this year with a little bit of humour :)

Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to present to you my discussion with Dave, where we talk about why having fun should be in everyone’s job description, how we can use humour as a tool to engage and motivate people, how it helps improve communication, learning and engagement in the workplace and why laughter is important to the workplace.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Customer service done different and fast reinvention of a faceless product category – Interview with Craig Dubitsky of hello – and is number eighty six in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here are the highlights of my interview with Dave:

The Little Book of Laughter

  • Just published a book called: The Little Book of Laughter: Using humour as a tool to engage and motivate all learners.
  • Socrates once said that life and learning should be a festival of the mind.
  • Joke: How much is cockney shampoo? – ‘Pantene’!
  • However, the book is not about telling jokes.
  • What Dave has found out is that humour is a cognitive system for processing information.
  • Humour is linked to brain plasticity and having an old or young mind.
  • This is, essentially, a book about learning and our ability to learn.
  • Bob Monkhouse once said ‘Growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional’.
  • Neotony is the study of juvenile traits in adults.
  • These are traits that last century would have been viewed as immature but are now considered prized traits. Traits like openness, playfulness, resilience…..
  • These traits help us be versatile, flexible and adaptable and are key attributes in modern business.
  • Curiosity and play are key to learning and helping us develop relationships with people around us, whether they be friends, family, colleagues or customers.
  • That does not mean we should not be serious.
  • However, we should choose when it is appropriate to be serious and when it is appropriate to be more playful or curious.
  • Neuroscience tells us that forcing yourself to smile more will have a positive impact on your physiology and, probably, those around you.
  • Dave’s own education experience can tell us a lot about employee engagement and performance:
    • If he liked his teacher and his subject, he excelled
    • If he liked the teacher but didn’t like the subject, he probably under-performed; and
    • If he disliked his teacher and disliked his subject, he failed.
  • Human beings fundamentally want to be understood.
  • If they feel understood then their self-esteem soars, their confidence rises and then they engage.
  • Good relationships have Interesting and Interested elements.
  • Curiosity + Passion = Intelligence.
  • If we approach the world with good humour then we tend to make better decisions.
  • Try and be more playful and more curious but look for the ‘good human ingredients’ to see how you are doing – the body language from other people to tell you if there are being receptive or not – sparkly eyes, an open face, leaning in etc etc
  • Don’t be scared to share your stories.
  • The three key things that Dave always tells people are:
    • Be more curious – ask more questions;
    • Smile more; and
    • Get used to saying the first thing that pops into your head (even if it is only an Alan Partridge ‘Aha’)
  • The biggest block to learning is F.E.A.R. (False Expectations Appearing Real)
  • If you are one of those people that find yourself listening to this podcast, or reading the notes, and you are sitting back in your chair, with folded arms, saying to yourself ‘I can’t do that’. Then, ask yourself this: Can’t do ‘what’, exactly?
  • If you ask enough questions then you will create engagement, are more likely to have fun and will create new ideas.
  • Some people will say that they are not funny. Dave disagrees with that and believes everyone has humour in them.
  • Understand your own humour or what you find funny by starting to pay attention to what you find funny and what makes you laugh.
  • However, it’s no good noticing those things and then keeping them to yourself. Share them with other people as it’s a great means of them getting to know you better.
  • Relaxed, happy brains learn more effectively than unhappy and stressed out brains.
  • Being able to laugh at the world and ourselves builds resilience and strengthens our ability to deal with adversity and bounce back from setbacks.
  • ‘When the mouth is open with laughter, you can pop in some food for thought’
  • ‘Your talent is in the choices you make’
  • Curious comes from the Latin ‘curator’, which means to nurture.

About Dave (adapted from his Laughology bio)

Dave KeelingDave Keeling is an Actor, Comedian, Presenter, Stand Up Educationalist and writer. Having trained as a professional actor at The London Academy Of Music And Dramatic Art Dave has worked extensively in theatre and television. His credits include ‘Blood Brothers’ in the West End and ‘EastEnders’ for T.V.

Dave’s client list includes Sotheby’s, Liverpool Victoria, BP, Regus, Hewlett Packard, BT, British Aerospace, The Inner temple and the Metropolitan Police. He specialises in helping organisations improve and manage change, teamwork, communication, creativity and well-being.

Dave is also a much sought after stand-up Educationalist working with pupils, parents teachers and education teams up and down the country on topics such as: thinking skills; memory; revision techniques; confidence; risk taking; the brain and much more. His previous books include ‘Rocket up your class‘, ‘The Book of Invisible Teaching‘ and ‘The Big book Of Independent Thinking‘.

He is also a stand-up comedian and has gigged all over the country enjoying salty snacks, fizzy pop and a cuddle with anyone who cares to turn up.

Dave is 6 foot two, eyes of blue and a little bit ginger, and believes that within that description lies a little bit of something for everyone.

Grab a copy of Dave’s new book: The Little Book of Laughter and say hello to him on Twitter @mrappealing.

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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