Laugh and the Work World Laughs With You by Craig Harrison
Laugh and the Work World Laughs With You
by Craig Harrison
Many of today's work environments are rife with moody bosses and co-workers,
repetitive tasks and unpredictable market pressures. Stress abounds. Managers
often tell me they can’t afford the time or cost for my humor workshops; how can
they afford not to address workplace stress.
We know clinically that laughter and play have medicinal qualities, offering
physical, psychological and physiological benefits as well. In the workplace,
humor and fun can increase productivity, encourage creativity, enhance team
building, and thus improve esprit de corps.
While we may not be able to control everything that happens to us in our jobs
and work environments, we do have control over how we choose to react. I coach
others how to create an environment which is safe and friendly, and use humor to
help maintain a healthy balance between the pressure and seriousness which comes
from high stakes jobs and a competitive marketplace. Remember that humor starts
from within. Being able to laugh at your own foibles goes a long way toward
creating a healthy work climate in which to flourish.
The following are activities and strategies for you as individuals, workgroups
and managers. Be creative and use these ideas to stimulate your own remedies to
- Adorn your work area with cartoons, headlines or funny photos which bring a
smile to your face and visiting co-workers'. Whether you're surrounded by your
favorite Pez dispensers childhood, or wry cartoons that speak to your tastes,
let your work area comfort and humor you while taking some of the edge off the
standard office decor.
- Tap a co-worker to be your humor-partner. Bring a daily joke to share.
Commiserate about funny workplace events. Keep each other buoyed with good
cheer. When the chips are down your humor partner can chip away at your
depression, and vice versa.
- Don't think cubicles limit your humor options. I've seen shower curtains,
umbrellas and other devices used effectively to set a light or semi-serious
tone. For some, creativity flourishes behind their cubicle's shower curtain.
People tampering with your work area? Don't get angry…protect it with yellow
"Crime Scene" tape!
- Subscribe to a humor website to be e-mailed a free daily or weekly humorous
story, joke and anecdote. Sites such as www.netfunny.com/rhf/ or
www.oraclehumor.com/ are two examples.
Are You Laughin' At Me? One manager, known for his moodiness,
acknowledged it with a "Mood-O-Meter" outside his door. Both he and his
employees took turns forecasting his mood: from fire-breathing to variable
clouds to periodic eruptions…proceed at your own risk. Don't underestimate the
power of self-effacing humor for making yourself more accessible and liked.
Room for Laughter. Some companies designate a room, work area or corner
of their office as a romper room, where frolicking and silliness is allowed.
Whether yours has a punching bag, games, a dartboard or foosball, it's a room
for letting off steam and taking a break from the grind.
Whine Not. Everyone loathes whiners yet we all need to blow off steam
periodically. One group of creative trainers and their manager decreed Thursdays
to be effective whining days. They self-policed themselves the rest of the week,
making sure not to whine. Yet even their Thursday gripes had a departmental
sanction and somehow seemed healthier. After all, they belly ached together. A
ripple effect actually improved the morale of departments adjacent to theirs!
Meting Out Humor. Many professionals approach meetings with trepidation.
A dash of humor can make a difference. For regular meetings earmark one or two
minutes each meeting for a humorous interlude. In one workgroup a "humor hand"
rotates from meeting to meeting. Employees take turns setting a lighter tone to
the meeting, insuring everybody is engaged. An anecdote, verbal or physical
activity focuses the group on the task at hand and brings colleagues together in
a spirit of fun.
When not to use Humor. Not all humor is good humor. Humor that hurts, ostracizes
or is cruel will have a detrimental effect on others and you. Strive for humor
that is inclusive, creative and captures our human essence. By now you know that
sexist, racist, ageist jokes and crude humor are not only inappropriate, but can
lead to sanctions, termination or even lawsuits. Be sensitive when telling jokes
involving terminations, reductions in force (RIFs) and personal tragedies. Their
hurt can linger long after the fact. . When in doubt…leave it out!
Appropriate humor can make hard tasks easier, collaborations fun and certainly
make workdays go faster. Laugh, and the work world laughs with you!
Since the age of eleven when he went door-to-door selling Used Jokes, Craig
Harrison has been connecting with customers through humor. As a professional
speaker and corporate trainer Craig Harrison's Expressions of Excellence
provides sales and service solutions through speaking. Contact him at (888)
450-0664, through his website
http://www.ExpressionsofExcellence.com or via e-mail: