February 23, 2021 A Funny Thing Happened the Other Day – Bring Humor to Your Work
In case you do not know me, I am perceived as a profoundly serious person. Throughout my career, in group training sessions, where you had to pick whom you would want with you on a deserted island, I was always picked. Not because I was a fun person, I was always picked because I would help the group survive and figure out how to get off the island. Inevitably, I would say I can be fun too….. I never use this activity now.
I remember when at my office in Austin, the team would laugh about the daily antics of Garfield, I would go into my office and laugh 30 minutes later when I finally got the joke. You would hear someone say, she finally got the joke. Now do not misunderstand, I have a great sense of humor, it’s just not always on display.
So, the other day, while working on a proposal, I heard a funny joke and I laughed out loud. When my husband came into the house, I said I have a joke. He froze. Braced himself against the sink and said okay….so I told the joke. He looked at me puzzled and then laughed out loud and went on his way.
I did not stop there, I called one of my closest friends. We never call each other during the workday, so of course, she answered – “what’s up?” Again, I said I have a joke. Just like my husband, she said ah- okay. I told the joke, she paused and then laughed out loud.
Now I am having fun, so I call my daughter – she answered – “Hey Mom” and I said – I have a joke. She said – I kid you not – “Excuse Me” so I repeated, I have a joke. She said okay – I told the joke, she paused, laughed, and then said to the grandkids – Nana told a joke. They replied you mean Granddad, and she proceeded to convince them that it was really me.
Now at this point, you are probably wondering why I am telling this story. As I had a good hearty laugh while working, I realized that people are probably not laughing as much as we did in the past. The seriousness of our current environment, maybe creating more stress than humor.
Do you have Humor at work?
The physical benefits of laughter are well documented. Laughter decreases stress hormones, boosts the immune system, and raises the heart rate, bringing more blood and oxygen to the brain. It also increases the level of alertness and memory as well as the ability to learn and create.
Benefits for the Office
It makes sense that all that extra brainpower and relaxation would lead to enhanced performance at work. But laughter has other benefits around the office, which include:
Stronger Teams. Laughter breaks down barriers, builds relationships, and allows for better communication among coworkers. People with a sense of humor often have the ability to deal effectively with people and work issues, and they keep the severity of problems in perspective.
Humor also enhances collaboration and team building, creating a climate in which people feel motivated, energized, and ready to contribute. You could say that the group that plays together stays together.
Happier Workers. Laughter reduces workplace stress and breaks up boredom and fatigue. Happier, more relaxed workers are able to better focus on tasks, make fewer errors, and are more productive. They also stick around longer, are absent less, and do not burnout.
Humor also helps to minimize resistance to change. It is a good defense against the stress of reorganizing, downsizing, outsourcing, and other sometimes unsettling workplace trends.
Creative Problem-Solvers. Humor unleashes creativity and divergent problem-solving. For example, good jokes guide us down one path only to suddenly track us onto another with the punch line. This breaks the habits of our thinking and leads to increased creativity.
How to Bring Humor to Work
Injecting humor into the workplace is not about entertaining others. It is not pranking, practical jokes, or juvenile antics. Instead, it is more of an attitude, a way of viewing and processing things. Here are a few tips for bringing more humor into your work life:
Look for humor. The more you look, the more you will find and receive. Try to see things from an out-of-the-ordinary perspective.
Collect humor. Start a funny file with cartoons, jokes, comic strips, and stories. Set aside a portion of your office or desk as a “humor corner.”
Encourage laughter in your department. Establish a humor bulletin board, keep a prop box, play games, encourage humor breaks.
Laugh at yourself. Whatever your title or role at work, laughing at yourself encourages trust and goodwill.
Use humor every day. Add humor to presentations, performance evaluations, meetings, in memos, newsletters, and emails, and at parties and recognition events.
Keep the humor appropriate for the office. Never poke fun at anyone in a subordinate position and do not deprecate a person’s beliefs or background. There is plenty of wonderful, clean humor out there.
In closing, my husband, my friend, and my daughter all circled back with me to make sure I was not having a mental moment – LOL and then gave me Kudos for telling a joke.
Take time to step out of the stress and enjoy a hearty laugh.
Schedule a virtual team retreat. Team retreats focus on collaboration and strengthen your team. The retreat will help in integrating new staff members and reenergizes your current employees. Team-building retreats focus on your organization’s culture and how you expect people to interact.
Be well and Stay Safe.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested in hosting a virtual or in-person team retreat.
Daphne B. Latimore is the founder and Managing Partner of D.B. Latimore Professional Services Group, LLC a boutique firm specializing in Human Resource Management, Professional Coaching Services, and Workforce Seminars.
Daphne has over 25 years of strategic and operational experience in both the private and public sectors. As a career HR Strategist, Executive and Leadership Coach, skilled Facilitator and Trainer, and HR consultant, Daphne specializes in establishing sustainable workforce productivity programs through the development of leaders at all levels.