Newsletter 19: 10 Reasons Why Humour Is A Key To Success At Work

Jacquelyn Smith , Forbes Staff member, wrote this article. I thought we’d take a break from the serious stuff, and get a little light-hearted insight into humour in business, a key ingredient to make our work day worthwhile. Enjoy 😊

“A sense of humour is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tasteful humour is a key to success at work, but there’s a good chance your co-workers aren’t cracking jokes or packaging information with wit on a regular basis–and your office could probably stand to have a little more fun.

Michael Kerr, an international business speaker, says the amount or type of humour you’ll find in any given workplace depends almost entirely on the culture. “In workplaces that encourage people to be themselves–that are less hierarchical and more innovative–people tend to be more open with their humour,” he says. “Even people who aren’t always comfortable sharing their humour tend to do so in more relaxed environments where the use of humour becomes second nature with everyone’s style.”

Then there are workplaces with employees who tone down their humour, often with the desire to be taken more seriously, he adds. “Yet, this can backfire as people who take themselves overly seriously are often, ironically, taken less seriously by the people around them.”

Whatever the reason may be, if you or your colleagues tend to be dry and dull in the office, you’ll want to work on injecting more humour into your workday.

Here are 10 reasons why humour is a key to success at work:

1. People will enjoy working with you. “People want to work with people they like,” Vanderkam says. “Why wouldn’t you? You spend huge chunks of your waking hours at work, so you don’t want it to be a death march. Humour–deftly employed–is a great way to win friends and influence people. You need to be funny, but not snarky (that’s not good for team building) and you can’t offend anyone.”

2. Humour is a potent stress buster. “In fact, it’s a triple whammy,” Kerr explains. “Humour offers a cognitive shift in how you view your stressors; an emotional response; and a physical response that relaxes you when you laugh.”

3. It is humanizing. “Humour allows both employees and managers to come together, realizing that we all seek common ground,” Taylor says.

4. It puts others at ease. Humour is a way to break through the tension barrier, she says. “Research shows that humour is a fabulous tension breaker in the workplace,” Kerr adds. “People who laugh in response to a conflict tend to shift from convergent thinking where they can see only one solution, to divergent thinking where multiple ideas are considered.”

5. Ha + ha = aha! “Humour is a key ingredient in creative thinking,” Kerr says. “It helps people play with ideas, lower their internal critic, and see things in new ways.” Humour and creativity are both about looking at your challenges in novel ways and about making new connections you’ve never thought about before, he adds.

Taylor agrees. She says humour “establishes a fertile environment for innovation because people are more inspired when they are relaxed.”

6. It helps build trust. “You can build trust with the effective use of humour because humour often reveals the authentic person lurking under the professional mask,” Kerr says.

He explains that numerous studies suggest that people who share a healthy, positive sense of humour tend be more likable and are viewed as being more trustworthy. “Humour is also viewed as sign of intelligence,” he adds. “All of these characteristics, as well as the fact that humour is a fabulous icebreaker and can tear down walls, can help people build relationships in the workplace, and especially these days, relationships are critical to success.”

7. It boosts morale. Humour boosts morale and retention while reducing turnover because employees look forward to coming to work, Taylor says. “Employees like to work for and with others who have a sense of humour. We all prefer to have fun at work. It should not feel like an indentured servitude environment.”

8. People who use humour tend to be more approachable. The more approachable you are, especially as a leader, the more honest and open people around you will be, Kerr says. “And the more honest and open people tend to be, the more successful and innovative teams tend to be.”

9. Humour can allow your company to stand out. “It can help companies stand out and go beyond with their customer service, garnering them a huge loyal following,” he says. If you want to stand out from the pack, using humour with your service is an effective way to do that.

10. It can increase productivity. “Humour creates an upbeat atmosphere that encourages interaction, brainstorming of new ideas, and a feeling that there are few risks in thinking outside the box. All that leads to greater productivity,” Taylor explains. “It also stands to reason that if you’re in a more jovial atmosphere, you’ll have more passion for what you do. Your work ethic will increase, and your enthusiasm will likely be contagious. It’s a win-win for you and your employer.”

May 3, 2013

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