What Stand-Up Comedy Can Teach You About Relationships

Matt Lillywhite

Photo: Sophia H. Gue/Unsplash


Communication is important. But you don’t need me to tell you that. After all, you already know it’s a vital skill for listening and being empathetic to other people’s feelings.

But here’s the thing: Most people don’t know how to communicate effectively. And as a result, they have incredibly mediocre relationships. Perhaps that’s what the author, Roy T. Bennett, meant when he said:

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply.”

It’s no secret that stand-up comedians are excellent at communicating with their audience. So below are several communication techniques from them that will strengthen your relationships. Each of these insights changed my life for the better, and I’m sure they will do the same for you, too.

1. Understand Your Audience.

When you know exactly what your audience wants to hear and their preferred communication method, it’s much easier to create a meaningful connection with them. The comedian and actor, Kevin Hart, said it best:

“I understand that being able to appeal to the public and having an amazing sense of humor is not something that comes easy. It’s definitely a gift and for which I’m thankful.”

Understanding your audience is also essential when it comes to relationships. For example, my girlfriend’s love language is messages of affirmation. So whenever something needs to change, I always make sure to emphasize what she’s doing well, and then frame any suggestions as constructive criticism.

Similarly, she communicates with me in an extremely effective way. As a result of understanding each other’s preferred style of communication, it’s much easier to openly discuss how we feel, and anything that’s on our mind.

If you want to improve your relationship with anyone, take a moment to figure out the best way to communicate with them. Because when you genuinely understand how to convey what you want to say, the quality of your relationship will exponentially improve.

2. Tell A Story.

You’ll rarely convince someone that your opinion is correct with facts and logic. After all, history shows that humans find it easier to connect with others through shared stories and tales. Quoting an article published by the BBC:

“Storytelling is a form of cognitive play that hones our minds, allowing us to simulate the world around us and imagine different strategies, particularly in social situations.”

It’s no secret that humor also plays a massive role in social communication. It helps us to form relationships, create memorable experiences, and understand the emotions of others.

If you watch a stand-up comedy performance, you’ll frequently notice that many jokes are told as stories. In essence, the comedian invites the audience to listen to a series of events and participate in a shared experience that everyone can relate to.

As a result of storytelling, it’s much easier for everyone to understand the joke, follow along, and enjoy laughing together.

So if you want to improve your relationships, learning how to tell stories is undoubtedly an excellent place to start. For example, I’ve found that talking in a way that grabs their attention and imagination is a great way to begin.

Although it may seem like an extremely simple strategy, telling stories during conversations will have an incredible impact on the quality of your relationships.

3. Speak Only When You Have Something To Say.

Have you ever noticed how comedians only speak when they have something to say that the audience will find interesting or entertaining? If you think about it, it’s not really a surprise that they can generate such a strong connection with the audience. Plato said it best:

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”

I’ve found that speaking only when you have something to say makes every conversation a lot more interesting. Because suddenly, you’re not talking for the sake of talking. Instead, every word that comes out of your mouth has meaning, purpose, and value for the other person.

So if you want to improve your ability to communicate, start by listening intently to what they have to say, and speaking only when you can add genuine value to the conversation.

Do that each day and every single one of your relationships will quickly improve for the better.

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