Does Humor on the Job Work for You?

As I’ve mentioned on this blog, I like to keep things as light and humorous as possible. That’s true in my personal life, and not markedly different in a professional environment. To me, keeping it light helps keep it in perspective.

Obviously, there is a time for seriousness, and it is important to maintain a level of professionalism and to know and respect limits. However, I’ve found that one of the best ways to maintain my own sanity and to help those with whom I work to do the same is to try to look at the lighter side of things whenever possible.

As I was scrolling through my favorite feeds today, I came across a fun post entitled 10 ways to use humor on the job by Calvin Sun. It includes a few tips on how to incorporate humor in your daily activities, as well as some tips on avoiding trouble in the process.

A particular point I found interesting centered on the “rule of threes” in humor; something with which I was not familiar:

Have you ever noticed how many jokes involve a minister, a priest, and a rabbi? Or a member of ethnic groups 1, 2, and 3? An old saying tells us that a “cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Triangular structures are among the strongest ones possible. The number three represents symmetry and completeness. Therefore, when developing your humor, try to involve three elements.

I guess I hadn’t consciously noted that before, maybe that’s why my best stuff seems to bomb so often.

A point that I can especially appreciate is that of “using humor to diffuse embarrassment and tension.” I really think that sometimes we get so caught up in the daily pressures of the work environment and forget that, at the end of the day, it’s a job, and not the sole reason for our existence. Injecting an occasional dose of humor allows us to step back, cool down, and reset the internal stress-meter.

One of the goofy little things I’ve done in the past (and my posting about it probably won’t do it justice, but bear with me) is to go around at approximately 3 or 4 o’clock on Wednesday after noon with some techno-sounding ringtone blasting on my cell phone and high-five every one on the team and wish them a “happy hump day” and tell them what a great job they’d been doing at whatever they it is they do and that we only had 2 more days to go. Granted, that wouldn’t fly with just any team, but in the group I was with at the time, it became something of a tradition, and did work to change a few “game faces” to smiles and release some stress.

What are your thoughts on humor on the job? What are some of the things you do to lighten things up? I’ll be interested in hearing your comments!

About the Author

Jonathan Babcock is a management and IT consultant with expertise in business analysis, process optimization and solution delivery methodology. Practical Analyst is his outlet for sharing what he's learned, and for interacting with solution delivery professionals across the globe.

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2 Comments

  1. My thoughts on humor at work …

    Firstly, you must always laugh at jokes made by those above you. Laughing at jokes made by those at your level or beneath is optional.

    Secondly, if you people to laugh at your own jokes, tell your jokes to your sub-ordinates.

    Finally, humor in the workplace is desired but optional – unless you work as a stand up comedian.

    Cheers

    Andrew

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