Over the past twenty years, I have given an envelope with a clown nose in it to everyone in my workshops and keynote speeches. I then ask them to close their eyes and think about something that is upsetting them. After a minute-or-so, I ask them to open the packet, put on the clown nose, and look about the room.
The smiles and laughter flood the room as the upsets they recall disappear. In addition, I ask the audience to take the clown nose home and use it in stressful situations. The tales that have come back are amazing.
One mother, for example, told me that she wears one when trying to get her kids out of bed on school mornings. It starts the day off on a happy note.
Another couple told me they plant clown noses all around the house and put them on as a signal to head off an impending fight. For them, it is like an instant red light to stop what might turn into a heated argument.
And, I personally saw the power of a red clown nose one day when my flight was three-hours late in taking off. I gave one to the flight attendant who was greeting people as they entered the aircraft. Most of the passengers were grumpy and unresponsive when she smiled and said “hello.” But when she put on the clown nose many of the passengers smiled and lit up. Interestingly, there were a few people who immediately turned away preferring to hang on to their anger.
If you don’t have your own personal red clown nose, I highly recommend you get one. Keep it handy when you are in traffic jams, at staff meetings when things get bogged down, or put one on to fend off arguments before they even get started.
And, if you are too embarrassed to wear a clown nose in public, wear one privately. To start each morning in a fun way, put on the nose, look in the mirror, and say out loud, “This person is not to be taken seriously.”
Originally published on Examiner.com on March 7, 2013