In earlier times, a colleague would run into your office with a joke hot off the fax. Today, that just sounds like a set-up for a joke. Jokes and humor have always been part of a healthy workplace, but with the viral jokes and memes we see online, it just might be time to review some rules of the road for humor in your office.
One trait that consistently ranks high among the most admired leaders is the confidence to poke fun at themselves. When authority figures understand the difference between false humility and authentic self-deprecating humor, ice is broken, and any situation can go from potentially awkward to funny. Smart leaders have long recognized that often the best punchline is themselves. Use the levity surrounding your experiences, mistakes, failures, challenges, etc., to turn teachable moments into unforgettable lessons.
And if you had any doubts about the positive effects of humor in the workplace – a recent survey found that 8 out of 10 executives consider having a great sense of humor an important part of fitting into a company’s culture.
Here are some tips for effective use of humor in your office.
Never at someone else’s expense. Use humor to boost someone or make them comfortable not to single out or covertly criticize.
Never with sexist, racist or ageist overtones. One would think in 2013 this would be an obvious, but yet examples crop up time and again.
Don’t try too hard. Nothing falls flatter or faster than someone forcing humor on others.
No practical jokes (unless you know the person very well). Trust your instincts and only go for the ambitious gag if you know your audience will take it in stride.
Eliminate “I’m just kidding” or “it was a joke”. If you have to add this to your attempt at humor, then you’ve broken one of the rules above!