Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Building your talents into real strengths also requires practice and hard work, much like it does to build physical strengths. Tom Rath

Do we focus on our strengths or our weaknesses? Tonight, I am giving a speech to Speechcrafters; this group is taking a six-week course in public speaking with Toastmasters. My speech will be about putting humor in speeches.

I’m one of the least funny speakers, and I’ve found there is nothing as unfunny as trying hard to be funny. As I’ve put this speech together I’ve come across some things that make sense to me about humor.

A female comic says no one comes up to her after her routine and asks for her number, but the male comics have throngs of women wanting to date them. It seems men like women who laugh at their jokes, and women like men who make them laugh. Over the years the humor in a relationship changes, but sharing a laugh is no less important. Whereas during courtship men were the humor producers and women the appreciators, in long-term relationships it can be harmful for men to use humor. When women are the humorous partner it seems relationships thrive.

One of the reasons is men often use disparaging humor directed at others, whereas women use self-deprecating humor, which might bring relief to a tense situation. Women who use humor report greater marital satisfaction. According to Dr. John Gottman, one of the best ways for wives to lower their husband’s heart rate is to crack a joke to relieve tension, and couples who deescalate the conflict in this way are more likely to have a stable marriage.

As relationships progress a man’s humor becomes less important and a woman’s sense of humor becomes a blessing. In the beginning, it was about attracting a mate but after marriage, it is about sympathy and attunement to the other person’s feelings and perspectives. A genuine laugh is one of the best and most honest ways to convey, I’m with you, and we are in this together.

Build upon strengths, and weaknesses will gradually take care of themselves. Joyce C. Lock

A few years ago I volunteered to be part of a comedy night. I’d always wanted to try it and when the opportunity presented itself I took it. I worked hard putting together material, and bought a couple of books like, “The Comedy Bible.” I prepared, knew my material, and didn’t get one laugh. But, I did get compliments on my material, along with a few pointers from funny men who got a lot of laughs.

Tonight I’m going to tell new Toastmasters to focus on putting together a good speech, not to focus on telling jokes, but to tell true stories that the audience can relate to. They might get a laugh, they might not, but either way, it is okay.

If humor is not our strength and we work hard to give humorous speeches we might sacrifice what we are good at. If we work hard to give speeches that focus on our strengths and we get a laugh that’s a win for everyone.

We should do this in our lives; focus on our strengths and not our weaknesses. When we focus on our weaknesses we often forget to work on our strengths and we try to become someone we are not. We become the proverbial square peg in a round hole.

We only have so much time and energy, and how we spend it will determine our results. If we spend our time trying to become better at what we will never be best at, is that as good as focusing on what we are already good at and improving that? ┬áIf we focus on our strengths I think we will have a better life than if we focus on our weaknesses, and we shouldn’t discount small improvements that add up to significant improvements over time.

Build on your strengths, work on your weaknesses. Minh Tan

You cannot build performance on weaknesses. You can build only on strengths. Peter Drucker

Sometimes we’re tested not to show our weaknesses, but to discover our strengths. Sasha Gollish

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