How to Handle Conflicts with Humor

How to Handle Conflicts with Humor

Last update: 13 August, 2019

Managing conflicts by taking things with humor not only allows for resolving disagreements, but also strengthens relationships. In fact, different studies show that one can overcome adversity if one manages to maintain joy. Conflict management is nothing less, since humor plays a similar role when confronting a conflict.

You can avoid many confrontations and resolve arguments and disagreements with good humor, since humor can help say things that might otherwise be difficult to express without offending someone. However, it is important to laugh with the other person, not at them.

When humor and play are used to reduce tension and anger, by reframing problems and putting the situation into perspective, the conflict can become an opportunity for greater connection and intimacy.

Humor is an effective tool in conflict management

Laughter is the best medicine, as it relieves stress, elevates mood, improves creativity and makes us more resilient. But it is not only good for emotional and physical health. It is also good for relationships. Laughter brings people together and creates intimacy. Laughter is a particularly powerful tool for managing conflicts and reducing stress.


In general, humor plays an important role in all kinds of relationships. In new relationships, humor can be an effective tool not only to attract another person, but also to overcome any discomfort or embarrassment that arises when you meet them. In already established relationships, humor can maintain emotion and freshness, as well as help to not accumulate anger or discomfort by problems not satisfactorily resolved.

Sharing the pleasure of humor creates a sense of intimacy and connection between two people; qualities that define solid and successful relationships. Laughing with the other creates a positive bond between the two. This union acts as a buffer against stress, disagreements, disappointments and problems that accumulate over time.

The power of humor in relationships

Conflict is an inevitable part of any kind of relationship. In addition, any conflict can be aggravated, even a small one, simply by reacting by letting yourself be driven by emotions or by the accumulation of bad memories by poorly managed conflicts in the past.

When conflict arises, humor and play can help clear things up and restore the connection. If used with skill and respect, a little humor can turn conflict and tension into an opportunity for shared fun and intimacy. In addition, this makes it possible to handle the situation, express one’s opinion and even formulate a solution without hurting the other’s feelings.


Although humor is not a miracle cure for conflicts, it can be an important tool to help overcome difficult times that affect all relationships occasionally. On the one hand, humor interrupts the struggle for power that is usually reached in conflicts, as it almost immediately removes tension, allowing reconnecting and regaining perspective.

In addition, laughter and shared play help free yourself from rigid forms of thinking and behavior. This allows you to see the problem in a new way and find a creative solution. Humor also frees us from inhibitions. We feel free to express what we really feel, letting our most genuine emotions surface.

How to use humor to smooth over and manage conflicts

To handle conflicts with humor, it is not enough to laugh at everyone by starting with oneself. Not everyone has the same sense of humor nor they are they able to get into “joke mode” at the same speed. Also, it is possible that your humor is not understood by everyone.

These are just a few things to keep in mind. For this strategy to be effective it is important to consider the following:

1. Make sure that everyone is joking and that everyone understands your humor

Making harsh, sarcastic comments or criticizing the other person for not being able to accept a joke will create even more problems and can even damage a relationship. Humor can only help overcome the conflict when both parties are joking and connect with the same sense of humor.

It is important to be sensitive to the other person. When the joke is unilateral rather than mutual, it only manages to undermine the trust and goodwill of the other person. That’s why humor should be just as fun and enjoyable for everyone involved.


 2. Do not use humor to cover up other emotions

Humor helps us to be resistant towards the challenges of life. But there are times when it is not a good idea to resort to humor, for example, when it is used to cover up or avoid other emotions rather than coping with them. Laughter can be a disguise for feelings of pain, fear, anger and disappointment when you want to avoid them or when you do not know how to express them.

Although humor always gives us a chance to have fun, the reality is that covering up the truth is not funny. When we use humor and play as a disguise for other emotions, we are generating confusion and mistrust in relationships.

3. Develop a smarter sense of humor

It’s easier for some than for others to use humor, especially in stressful situations. That makes it necessary to develop a sense of humor that knows how to adapt to the circumstances. One of these skills is learning to discover the signs in the other person that indicate that they appreciate your efforts to take the tension off the subject and that they value humor as a way to deal with it.

It is also important to use a humor without sarcasm. Sarcasm only seeks to hurt the other or uses resources that can hurt others, even if it is not your intention. In fact, it is much more effective to start laughing at yourself.


7 Keys to Learning to Argue Better

If you think arguing well may be an art, look at this article and find out how to learn to do it without costing yourself displeasure. See more »

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.