Use Good Sense with Humor
By JC Heinen on August 3, 2012
A little light humor has an important place in the office. It can help to reduce stress and make for a more enjoyable, fun environment. But before you turn your department into a comedy club, take a few minutes to consider what type of humor is appropriate and appreciated. And make sure it’s tempered with good sense, good taste and good intentions.
“Sometimes a little levity goes a long way toward building rapport among colleagues and diffusing workplace tension,” according to Frank Kalman in his Talent Management blog “Humor Could Be the Secret Ingredient to On-Boarding.” He reports a recent survey of CFOs concluded 22 percent said a sense of humor was ‘very important’ and 57 percent agreed it was ‘somewhat important.’
Humor used properly can foster commonality among co-workers and can lighten a tense situation. Corporate trainers use it to break the ice and intuitive managers use it to put team members at ease. Just make sure your humor is intelligent and mature. Observational humor and stories from life experiences, can uncover commonalities that create stronger bonds. Self-deprecating humor in small doses can also heighten your likeability quotient.
Some types of humor, however, are detrimental to the cohesiveness of a work team. Sarcasm comes across as bitterness, prankish humor is usually considered low brow and immature, and any remark that’s clever at the expense of others should definitely be avoided. Jokes referencing anything sexual, age-related, racial, etc. are always inappropriate and create a hostile work environment that invites litigation.
As John Cleese once noted, “Perhaps it’s that our sense of humor is the best mechanism we have to get into that open mode in which we are at our most intelligent, most efficient…and most competitive. Giggle your way to greater competitiveness, ladies and gentlemen.”
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