There are many benefits to using and embracing humor in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone.
Not every workplace is the same, but one thing that is true for each of them is that every workplace is a place of business. They aren’t social clubs or classrooms where lively banter and humor is the norm. In fact, since most workplaces have HR departments, let that be a quiet reminder that there is always a mechanism present to keep you in check if your jokes rub someone the wrong way. Yet this doesn’t mean you should limit your personality in an effort to play it safe. No one wants to work with a robot, so before you feel the urge to make a joke at work, consider the following:
Is it acceptable?
There are always great jokes and humorous stories we enjoy with friends and family, but chances are many of them are not acceptable at work. In today’s social climate, more and more people are asserting their feelings of being offended by one thing or another. However, it’s no one’s role to police what offends people, and it’s certain that an HR department will not risk alienating an employee by taking their concerns lightly. This is why it’s better to stay away from hot button issues such as religion, politics, and sexuality at work. It’s just not worth the risk.
Is it needed?
It’s difficult to make the case that humor is needed, but if you speak with anyone who has been in a stressful work environment, they will say that humor is, in fact, a wonderful and much needed asset.
One of the great things about humor is that it helps relieve stress and can defuse tense conversations. In that sense, humor can be used as a tool to improve situations.
Not everyone has the same sense of humor, though, so what is funny to you may be awkward to someone else. Remaining guarded about humor is important, but when you are in a position of management, it might be better to use humor with greater frequency to show your staff you can be relatable through humor.
Other benefits of appropriate humor
- Sometimes the best use of humor comes at meetings with people you aren’t familiar with. A humorous observation can break the ice in ways that are unmatched. Add the fact that humans are naturally drawn to people who smile and make others laugh, and you’ll understand why sometimes the best leaders tend to be the most charming people in the office. For some, humor can even be inspiring, such as television’s cult hero boss Michael Scott from NBC’s “The Office”.
- Working in an office that embraces humor is something that generally improves the atmosphere. For many working adults, work can be monotonous, boring, and mentally painful. What humor does is break the grayness of the day a bit and reminds people to smile and laugh — two of the most important things all people should strive to do more each day of their lives.
- One of the other important parts of humor is that it breeds congeniality among co-workers. Working in an office where people sincerely like each other is one the best things a manager can hope for. This is why it’s a great idea to get the message out that laughter is a good thing and never get so used to taking things too seriously.
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