Humor Works in the Workplace

Posted August 22, 2012 by Marcy Farrey in On the Ladder

Every moment at work isn’t a perfectly happy one — there are times that are a little dull or slow, and there are times that are packed full of projects or tasks.  Whether you’re feeling unmotivated or overworked, it can be hard to keep the office positive all the time.

On Tuesday, I looked at how drama can infect the workplace, and how you can avoid it.  One way you can avoid drama and those other less-than-perfect moments at work is to use your humor. Forbes Contributor Kare Anderson shares “15 Ways You Can Accomplish More with the Right Kind of Humor.” In the office, humor can bring coworkers closer together:

Evoke unifying humor. When your humor highlights what we have in common, you and I feel more like ‘us.’ Joking with co-workers builds bonds. Look out for examples of unifying humor that spur an ‘us’ feeling and see how you might craft some for your situation.”

If you’re bonding over a joke, the mood lightens. Anderson points out that humor makes people relax, and that’s good for everyone involved:

Like scent, humor has extremely offensive or captivating effects on us, depending on the kind. Injecting unifying humor into a situation is probably the swiftest way to get us in relaxation mode and begin to bond. We become less fearful or tense. That’s when we are most likely to like each other, bring out our better sides — and be productive and creative together.”

I found newsrooms to be a great example of this. We often poked fun at our own situations, especially when equipment broke down at the worst possible times. When we laughed, it kept us from crying — and kept us from screaming at each other when something went wrong.

Of course, you have to be careful about what kind of humor you use. Anderson reminds us not to use cutting or belittling humor. Poking fun at a specific coworker all the time might make you more of a bully than a comedian. Be sure that your jokes or comments don’t focus on any one person and are more situational.

Humor can also help you get ahead. Anderson says humor helps capture the attention of others, and makes it easier for people to hear any controversial ideas you might have. And according to the Harvard Business Review, executives with a sense of humor climb the corporate ladder faster, and they earn more money.

Most importantly, though, humor helps the whole office be more productive:

“Humor is often the seed for fun. If people are having fun together, they’re going to work harder. They are more likely to get through the rough spots of disagreement and go out of their way to support each other.”

Wouldn’t an office with coworkers who can laugh at themselves and their business be more fun? Taking ourselves a little less seriously takes the pressure off. And don’t worry, you don’t have to be the office clown — you just have to be open to humor. When someone makes a joke, laugh and jump in.  You might feel better afterward.

Read more ways that humor can help you at work here.

About the Author

Marcy Farrey

Marcy Farrey is a videographer, writer, and editor. In her previous life, she worked as a broadcast news reporter and producer in Lincoln, Nebraska and as a writer and producer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University. Learn more about Marcy on her website

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