Go Ahead and Laugh: The Value of Humor in the Workplace

Let’s face it: The office can be a stressful place, full of deadlines, changing demands and diverse personalities. A great way to break up the tension is with a laugh. Comedy at work can be dicey, though, but there are ways to enjoy appropriate humor in the workplace. Here’s how.

After a busy day with work and kids, I love to wind down with a great comedy on TV. It takes my mind off of the issues of the day and leaves me feeling recharged. Sometimes, it even changes my perspective on situations entirely, encouraging me not to take life so seriously.

Just as humor can be beneficial at home, there’s also a place for humor in the workplace. In fact, National Tell a Joke Day is coming up this weekend, so what better time to think about adding some levity to your workday. The key is knowing how to lighten the mood appropriately.

Don’t cross the line. Choose topics carefully. Start joking about religion, gender, age, weight, race or politics and you may not only offend, but you can also lose your job. Also, never single out certain people. Making fun of a colleague can be extremely hurtful, even if you use a sarcastic tone or say “just kidding” afterward.

Pick great topics. So, what can you joke about? It’s best to think about common issues at work. Maybe it’s the printer that’s never in the mood to print or the strange new menu items at the company cafeteria. Stick with safe, neutral topics. The printer won’t have hurt feelings if you take a jab at its many issues.

Time it well. Someone who’s busy on the phone and only has time to look up for a minute to talk to you may not appreciate time wasted with office humor. However, if you run into that busy coworker in the break room, it may be a better time to joke about what a crazy day it has been.

Laugh at yourself. Let humor start with you. Realize you have one blue sock and one black sock on at work today? Don’t be afraid to joke about your mistake. Just be careful not to put yourself down constantly or people may feel uncomfortable or lose respect for you.

Think beyond jokes. In an earlier blog article, I talked about ways to have fun at work. Things like filling up a colleague’s office with balloons on her birthday or holding an ice cream party at the end of a big project really are great ways to lighten the mood.

Above all, trust your instincts when it comes to humor in the workplace. If you have any doubts about whether something is appropriate, don’t say it. You’ll help ensure your office humor is humorous and achieves the desired goal of making work a bit more fun.

So, what do you do to add some laughs at your office?

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Tags: Humor