A horse walks into a bar, the bartender says, "why the long face?"
There is a time and a place for being funny. Work can be on of them if it’s done well. In the workplace, you have to balance being funny enough to entertain your coworkers, but not so funny that you end up in the HR office.
In my business, humor is one of our core values. We all spend enough of our time at work, we need to make it fun and enjoyable. Being an adult in the business world is serious stuff. Bringing some humor, levity and playfulness into the day can lift everyone’s spirits, which increases energy, creativity and productivity.
Bringing humor into the workplace can be very effective. And, if not done well, it can backfire. Here are a few tips on how to be effective and avoid the danger zone.
Know Your Audience
It’s important to know your audience. Share a comical story, something that happened to you that made you laugh. Revealing that side of yourself allows you to bring your whole self to work, showing some vulnerability and a connection to the human experience that we all share. There are commonalities amongst groups that are fun to explore and those kinds of topics are a nice place to find humor.
Connect And Build Rapport
Bringing humor into the workplace is a way to connect and build rapport. You can relieve tension and stress and you can increase trust. I mentioned increasing energy and creativity – how about increasing recall? I remember presentations that used humor far more than those that were a dry, dull repeat of the presenter’s slides. We all remember lines from our favorite funny movies or television shows, don’t we?
Put People At Ease
You can put people at ease, perhaps win over an audience and make a memorable first impression. Being a little lighthearted in the workplace is sometimes a welcome counter to the heaviness of tasks.
So...what doesn't work?
Well, unkind behavior will do the opposite of lightening the mood. Don’t look to be provocative or mean. You aren’t at a nightclub, you are with your coworkers. Roasting or teasing is out of bounds. Topics that might stir up negative emotions or conflict would be off limits as well.
And, what if you “just aren’t funny?” Some people say that, but everyone has a little humor. You don’t need to be a stand up comedian, just be yourself, don’t take everything too seriously and don’t be afraid to laugh.
Bringing humor into the workplace can be your secret weapon to unlock the superpowers of the team around you. You’ll build relationships, create trust and unleash creativity. Take some time to consider how you can embrace this opportunity and avoid the danger zones to see your team come alive and thrive.