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The Laugh Factor

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Office: Learn To Find The Funny Side Of Work

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“Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” - Proverb

Every morning, millions of people get up, get dressed, and drag themselves to their respective offices. They sit on their desks; do their work until they are bored stiff because someone told them they had to be serious about their professions.

As adults, we are all told to be serious, keep our noses to the grindstone, and work hard. The trouble with this is that we get bored and tired with a sore nose to boot!

It is important to get the work done; otherwise, you could find yourself with no job at all. This is where humor can save you from the drudgery of work. Humor helps you deal with all kinds of stress and recover from misfortune or traumatic changes in your life. Without a sense of humor, the events in life would soon crush your spirit. With humor in your life, you can bounce back from adversity faster and easier.

As far as your job or career is concerned, humor is an absolute necessity. This does not mean that you should take your job lightly. It is okay to be passionate about your work and put in long hours if necessary, as long as you allow yourself to see the humorous side of whatever you are doing.

Remember that humor and laughter are contagious. Laughter releases tension in almost any situation. In situations requiring humor, it is important to make sure that your witticisms are appropriate to the situation. Embarrassing someone, using foul language, or trivializing things held valuable by others are not funny, not even a little bit. Making others look weak and ineffectual is not funny. Ostracizing others and using them as the butt of jokes is not funny.

Laughing at your self is a safe way to introduce humor at the workplace. It shows self-confidence in your skills, your ability to admit your mistakes, and that you can laugh about it and bounce right back.

Besides showing how secure you feel about yourself, it makes others feel comfortable working with you. Being light-hearted gives the signal to others that they can approach you and discuss important topics with ease.

By introducing humor into your workplace and keeping the humor appropriate, you are sending the message to others that it is okay to be funny, just not at someone else’s expense. You set the tone.

Winston Churchill once said, “I love my job, it’s the work I hate.” Humor makes the workplace more relaxed and comfortable. You may not be crazy about what you do, but it does not mean that you have to endure eight hours of discomfort in the workplace. People who are happy at work tend to be absent less often. They are less distracted and bored.

Some dull-witted person once said that if you are having fun, you are not working. This could not be further from the truth. When people enjoy their work, they are eager to go to the office each day, they cannot wait to get started. However, this does not refer to a workaholic. Working for the sake of it is not the same as loving what you do and enjoying the work.

When you enjoy what you do, your stress level is very low. You also become a better worker and take pride in doing an excellent job. Others love to be around you when you are light-hearted and full of laughter. People with enjoy working with you if you are energetic, creative, funny, and upbeat.

Surveys on humor in the workplace have shown that people with well-developed sense of humor simply do better at their jobs, as compared with those possessing little or no sense of humor at all.

Of the American executives surveyed, ninety-six percent agreed that humorous people just do better. The survey also stated that those with great sense of humor keep their jobs even during tough times. Some even climb up the corporate ladder faster than those people with limited sense of humor.

Many people feel that if they are upbeat and humorous at work, others will not take them seriously. Some people fear others will be easily offended. This may be true if your co-workers perceive you as the office clown, always joking around at inappropriate moments, or using humor not suited to the occasion. The trick is to find subtle ways at initiating humor in the workplace.

You do not need to be the Robin Williams of your office. Subtlety is more effective than pratfalls and practical jokes in the workplace. Initially, you may use moderation and learn to respect other people’s boundaries. It is possible that others fear that they will become the butt of your jokes, so proceed cautiously. When things occur in the office, try to put a spin on them and look at the humorous side of the situation.

If you can help relieve stress in the office without offending others, you can actually help boost their morale and improve communication between workers and the boss. Showing others how to be light-hearted in the workplace will build their self-confidence; eventually making them better workers.

Always remember that there is a time and place for everything. Pratfalls or practical jokes in the middle of a staff meeting is inappropriate, but a little gentle humor could lighten the occasion and help facilitate the proceedings. People think more clearly if they are happy and this makes everyone more efficient. A happy worker is a productive worker.

Humor can help solve many problems in the work place, especially when you:

  • Need to make a particular point in a meeting

  • Need to defuse a tense situation in the office

  • Need to find a way to connect with a co-worker

  • Need to find a suitable way to settle an argument

  • Need to resist aggressive or defensive responses

  • Want to avoid confrontations

Try a little humor to lighten serious moments. Humor is a motivating factor than criticism or accusations. You will discover that laughter in the office is a great management tool.

Teamwork is easier and more productive when humor is a part of the routine. Every good team has inside or private jokes. The team will connect and bond with one another. How do you come up with those inside jokes? They might laugh about difficult clients, impossible deadlines, long meetings, or computer problems. Each member of the team can help find the lighter side of office pressures, commiserating, and encouraging each other.

A study by Israeli psychologist Avner Ziv shows that the team that engages in playful and humorous fun, prior to a brainstorming session, will actually stimulate creative thinking.

However, there are a few types of humor to avoid altogether. These are inappropriate in the work place. One such type is ‘bathroom humor.’ This type of humor could send the wrong message to co-workers about who you are. It should be discouraged at all costs.

Avoid jokes about the boss, company, or its product or service. Making fun of people and their jobs is not funny. Likewise, you should avoid any jokes about religion, gender, or racial-related issues. Jokes that offend others are not humorous. Surely, you will not make friends and influence people with that kind of indelicate behavior.

Your sense of humor, however, offers a powerful means of establishing and maintaining your authority. It helps you set the tone, if you are the boss or supervisor. Humor is essential to help you deal with cranky co-workers or crabby clients.

One company creatively used humor when they had to send many reminders to a client about his bill:

“You’re an important client, but your bill is long overdue — we’ve carried you longer than your mother did!”

Attitude is the main ingredient in humor. Instead of seeing everyday problems, flip them around and find the funny side. Do not take everything so seriously. Truly confident people can laugh at themselves. It tells others that you are human like them and they can have the confidence to laugh at themselves, too.

In a rigid office, this may be a great way to inject a little humor into the workday. Even if you find yourself laughing all alone, do not worry. Your attitude is what counts. Go ahead and just be the happy and humorous person that you are. Laugh even if no one else does. Smile and the world will wonder about your next moves.

A sense of light-heartedness can help put people and their problems into a better perspective. Appropriate humor allows you to maintain your professionalism, while you concentrate on doing the important matters.

In ‘Laughter Prescription’, Lawrence J. Peter and Bill Dana wrote ”Realize that a sense of humor is deeper than laughter, more satisfying than comedy, and delivers more rewards than merely being entertaining. A sense of humor sees the fun in everyday experiences. It is more important to have fun than it is to be funny.”

Bear in mind that you may have to convince the naysayer in your office about the use of humor. Just because you are amusing, it does not mean that you are not getting the job done or you tolerate mediocre work. Humor is just a way of coping up with the dreariness of work. It is a way to make you more productive.

Start putting together a little library of humorous quotes and jokes, funny sayings, and old proverbs. Look through the local library for humorous literature. For office humor, you cannot beat Scott Adams and his hilarious “Dilbert” comic strips. It is now compiled and available in book form. Just watch out in comparing your boss to the ‘pointy-haired’ boss in the strip. Keep the humor in good taste at all times.

If you have an office of your own, or even just a cubicle, put up a bulletin board and tack funny cartoons, comic strips, photos, funny signs, and bumper stickers. See if your boss will let you set up a bulletin board in the break room, where everyone can contribute their favorites. It is a good conversation starter.

Do you want to become a good communicator in meetings? Try injecting a little humor into your discussions. Dull and dry get-togethers will put people to sleep. Get and keep their attention by showing your sense of humor. Bear in mind that it is your attitude not your circumstances that make you happy and humorous. Spread it around.

Do you think that your own life isn’t very funny? Think again!

Amusing things happen all the time. Maybe you just did not recognize them as funny because your sense of humor is not yet fully developed. Maybe you just did not see the funny side.

Picture your life as a sitcom rather than a soap opera and start looking for the funny happenings. You will be surprised and delighted and you will laugh a lot more. Write them down and retell them to friends and co-workers. You will soon have everyone, including yourself, laughing every day. You may notice that funny things begin to happen more frequently, once you are really paying attention to every humorous detail.

“Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the end.” - Sid Caesar

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