Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2017

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C h e c k o u t A B M P 's l a t e s t n e w s a n d b l o g p o s t s . Av a i l a b l e a t w w w. a b m p . c o m . 79 the myriad benefits of massage. In a joyful career such as this, why on earth shouldn't we be laughing? And why wouldn't we want our clients, students, and colleagues to laugh right along with us? Notes 1. Howard J. Bennett, MD, "Humor in Medicine," Southern Medical Journal 96, no. 12, 2003, accessed March 2017, 2. Andrew Colman, A Dictionary of Psychology (Oxford University Press, 2009). 3. R.C. Wender, "Humor in Medicine," Primary Care 23 (1996): 141–154. 4. Ibid. 5. R. Dunbar, et al., "Social Laughter is Correlated with an Elevated Pain Threshold," Proceedings of the Royal Society B (2011), accessed March 2017, http://rspb. Susan B. Epperly works with her MT husband, Shane, in their East Austin clinical massage therapy practice, Tiger Lily Studios, LLC. Susan and Shane (both massage instructors) also create a variety of educational products in both digital and physical formats (ebooks, audio books, videos, and more) for other wellness practitioners. For more information, visit your ideas past a few clients and colleagues before committing to ordering your funny business cards, postcards, or stickers. These trusted confidants may indicate some clients might take the humor the wrong way, or spot unintended (and perhaps inappropriate) messaging that you hadn't noticed. And an important thing to remember when crafting your own humorous promotional materials is to be original! There's nothing humorous about simply hijacking someone else's joke, idea, or marketing campaign. EASING AWKWARDNESS Those of us who practice massage know it's only a matter of time before the inevitable need arises to confront some awkward and uncomfortable conversations. Whether those exchanges are with clients, colleagues, or employers, humor can provide a valuable social lubricant that can help us ease the friction involved in some of these uneasy, but necessary, confrontations. Boundary issues, professional disagreements, and the discussion of inappropriate behavior, of course, must be tackled, but humor can sometimes help soften the blow involved in delivering a tough message. Of course, when using humor in an attempt to defuse an uncomfortable interaction, it's important to avoid the possibility of coming across as flippant, irreverent, facetious, or unconcerned with the other person's concerns and feelings. This can prove to be a tricky obstacle course to maneuver. We never want to risk hurting anyone's feelings or making anyone feel picked on or disrespected. It can be helpful to direct the humor away from the person with whom we're communicating, and rather focus it on the situation, or even ourselves. Self-deprecating humor, for those of us who are comfortable using it, can serve as a kind of peace offering in some interactions, wherein we demonstrate our own humility and our willingness to be vulnerable for the sake of levity and harmony. And, even if we don't feel comfortable incorporating humor into our face- to-face interactions with clients and coworkers, infusing it into written policies on our websites, brochures, and other materials can provide a more restrained and strategic use of humor. On our website, Shane and I have attempted to soften some of the more serious, straightforward explanations of our policies with some lighthearted comments. Our diversity policy is an example: "We are proud to provide a hospitable environment that embraces diversity. We welcome clients from all walks of life, regardless of gender, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, weight, age, fitness level, political affiliation, alma mater, paper or plastic preference (you get the idea). We do not, however, tolerate the abuse of alcohol, drugs, or massage therapists!" THE LAST LAUGH Those of us who practice massage therapy are a very fortunate bunch. We get to work in lovely, peaceful environments, and we have the privilege of making a very real and lasting impact on our clients' lives. Many of us feel we have truly found our life's work in practicing massage, teaching massage, and spreading the word about "There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt." Erma Bombeck

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