How to Make Patients Laugh

When it comes to reducing stress for you, your staff and your patients, nothing works more effectively than humor. If you make everyone laugh on a regular basis, you enjoy many benefits like these:

  • You attract and keep the best employees
  • You feel happier and sleep better
  • You attract more new patient referrals
  • Patients look forward to their visits
  • Colleagues wonder what you are up to
  • You live longer (“He who laughs, lasts.”)

How to Improve Your Sense of Humor

1. Prepare The intention to create humor brings out your sense of humor. If you want to make people laugh, great material pops into your head because of your desire. Just smile, decide to make the person laugh and do it. Keep a file of good jokes and funny comments. For example, when a patient complains about managed care plans being cheap, you say, “I agree! One plan asked us to serve whiskey at reception to cut down on anesthetics.” “Managed care is so cheap we’re thinking of putting a tip jar on the front desk.”

2. Use Surprise Use humor when no one expects it. For example, you have a disagreement with your partner or a staff member. However, instead of letting it ruin everyone’s day, you say, “Did you hear the one about . . . ” The joke, even if it’s bad, lightens up the scene and allows you to resolve the disagreement. Surprise your patients. For example, if a patient asks if a painless procedure will hurt, you say, “Yes.”

One of our clients surprises his patients with his office decor. The rooms are covered with celebrity photos with handwritten testimonials on them (obviously written by the doctor). When employees expect you to be angry, they love it when you say something absurd. “If you do that again, I’ll throw a tantrum!”

3. Make Fun of Yourself Exaggerate or minimize one of your unique qualities. For example, if you are obsessively neat, you say, “I’ve got to stop being such a slob.” If you are serious and conservative, you say, “I’m careful not to smile too much as I don’t want my face to break.” If you micro-manage, say, “I just realized I need to be more involved in your work. I’m going to start inspecting your progress every five minutes from now on. Sound good?”

When you make fun of yourself, you can’t offend anyone. Staff and patients see you as a regular person. People lighten up and relax.

Give it a try!