Today, I would like to talk about the Clever Cow or The Wise and Witty Cow. I find sense of humor is fun but a surprisingly serious topic with many people. Here is a comment I heard from one of my associates. I quote him with his permission.

To me, humor is one of the most accurate social signals for interpreting people around you. For instance, I can tell if people are engaged in me as a person if they laugh when I make an appropriately funny remark. When people feel that they are above you, it is very difficult to get them to smile, let alone laugh. I can tell who respects me and who is just tolerating me by their sense of humor when they are with me.

If you pay attention, you can tell a lot about a person, by not only what makes them laugh but also who makes them laugh. If you watch body language, you will see that people will turn themselves toward the person that interests them and then laugh at sometimes even the most inane comment. It is almost as if laughter is a form of informal clapping—a sign of approval.

In dating, I can tell how well a couple is getting along by the amount of humor that surrounds them. Along those same lines, I have a friend who said he knew his marriage was in trouble when his wife stopped laughing with him. The humor they once shared was replaced by a condescending eye roll on her part.

In any serious relationship, I find humor is vital. The most important time to have a sense of humor is during hard times. It is a way of communicating very quickly that everything is going to work out just fine. It keeps things in perspective and reminds each other that this too shall pass. I have found that people’s panic mode kicks in about the same time they can’t find any humor in a situation.

I believe you could write a whole book on the language of humor. At The Eight-Cow Relationship, we were actually surprised to find in our interviews and surveys that virtually nobody wanted a relationship that didn’t include the Clever Cow or sense of humor.

Ty B. Erickson, MD