Humor works at work

Humor works at work

Life is funny, the saying goes.  And when it isn’t funny, sometimes a sense of humor is what gets us through the tough times.

Humor plays a special role at work.  As critical as it is to take your work seriously, it is equally important to NOT take yourself too seriously. 

Many years ago, a Fortune Magazine article talked about how executives should be funnier.  I remember it well, because one of my biggest pet peeves is people who cannot laugh at themselves.  The wonderful example the magazine used involved auto executive Eugene Cafiero. 

When he was president of Chrysler, Cafiero went to England to meet with troubled employees at the company’s plant there.  Conflict between management and union employees was tense.  As Cafiero entered the plant he was confronted by a man who loudly said, “I’m Eddie McClusky, and I’m a communist.” 

The composed Chrysler executive extended his hand and replied, “How do you do.  I’m Eugene Cafiero, and I’m a Presbyterian.”  The subsequent laughter squelched this potentially explosive confrontation.

“A sense of humor is the one thing no one will admit not having,” said Mark Twain.  A good sense of humor helps to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected and outlast the unbearable.

I like to say if you can’t take a joke, then you’ll have to take the medicine.  That can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Think about your co-workers who you most enjoy working with:  They typically have a good perspective on the importance of specific projects, get work finished on time, offer to help out when it’s crunch time, and keep a smile on their faces through it all.  And they often manage to put a smile on your face too.

Humor can make unpleasant tasks more palatable.  It can diffuse difficult situations and improve already good relations. 

I have a friend in a business that you would usually not associate with humor – he’s a funeral director.  He doesn’t joke around about the seriousness of his work, but he does encourage his clients to allow themselves to laugh and share humorous memories about their loved ones.  He says it helps break the tension and brings comfort to a trying situation.

There is plenty of evidence to support the benefits of humor at work.  In a new study, researchers from Harvard’s Business School found that cracking jokes at work show your employer an increased perception of confidence and competence. 

The study shows the most effective joke tellers are more likely to be chosen as a group leader.  Just make sure the jokes in the office are appropriate.  Researchers found inappropriate jokes lead to a perception of low competence.  In other words, save the locker room banter and personal insults.  Those are never …read more
Source: Harvey Mackay