The answer is, almost no one. Humor is an invaluable tool for getting through the day, whether you’re pounding out a proposal, prepping for a big meeting, or just buried under a mountain of work at the office. (Make that, especially if you’re buried under a mountain of work at the office.)
Humor can be an excellent kick-start to creativity. Once I worked at an agency where brainstorm conference tables were littered with Legos, Slinkies, rubber balls, Play-Doh and other toys. The fun stuff got everyone laughing in a hurry and helped speed up the brain’s journey from the previous task to the task at hand.
How else can humor help in the workplace?
Humor can help defuse the tension that arises out of everyday office situations, like running out of milk or waiting on a deliverable from a colleague. If everyone stays happy, then everyone stays cool.
Practical jokes are an excellent team-building exercise, provided it’s all in fun and you don’t break anything! I’ve done everything from shrink-wrap a colleague’s cube to moving someone’s entire desk, plants and all, into the women’s restroom. (Of course we all helped put the desk back where it belonged.)
It’s a great retention tool: if people are laughing at work, chances are they are happy at work. You want your employees to look forward to coming to work every day – after all, we spend enough time here!
…and of course, a note of caution. Make sure you know your audience, particularly in an election year. Something that you think is hilarious could be genuinely offensive to a colleague. Stick to safe parameters unless you’re really among friends.
You didn’t think I’d let you go without a parting gift, did you? Here’s one for the water cooler:
A salesman calls a home, and a small boy answers the phone.
Salesman: Hi! Can I speak to your Mommy, please?
Boy: (in a whisper) No. She’s talking to the firemen.
S: Firemen? Oh my. Well, then, can I speak to your Daddy?
B: (still whispering) No. Daddy is talking to the policemen.
S: Policemen? Goodness. Is there any other grown-up there that I can talk to?
B: (whispering) Well. There are people here from the TV station, with cameras.
S: TV station? Son, what’s going on over there? What are all of those people doing at your house?
B: (whispering even more quietly) Looking for me…« Tuesday Tips: What Your Font Choice Says About You | 5 Productivity Tricks to Employ Now! »