Who of us doesn’t admire that co-worker who can deliver a punchline like it’s nobody’s business? Or the employee who can defuse a tense office situation with a quick, witty comment? Early in my career, I worked with a person whose stories always drew a circle of fans around her. She was hilarious. We felt good listening to her tell her tales of familiar human dilemmas and absurdities. Her humor was confident, bold, unabashed, some might say slightly reckless. But all of us, from the mail kid to the senior partners, ENJOYED it. She made us laugh and we loved her for it. She created a playful cushion between us and our work deadlines and stresses. Her humor made us feel a bit lighter, more cohesive, and perhaps better able to cope with the everyday pressures of our office. Did her sense of humor help her career? Well, it didn't hurt...she eventually worked her way up to become Chief Financial Officer of the firm.

Research shows that laughter and humor induce the natural release of endorphins into the body. Endorphins are the same powerful chemical that’s released from strenuous exercise and exhilarates the body, giving it positive energy. And we all know that positive energy can stimulate an employee’s work performance. Humor can also be a great connector of people which leads to more effective social communication. Good communication is necessary to maximize performance between employers and employees, salespeople and their customers, engineers and marketing. Sharing a laugh in the workplace can bring us closer, allowing us to get to know each other just that much more.

A study from London’s University College showed that people tend to mirror the behavior of those with whom they are interacting. This mimicking response was more likely with positive emotions than negative ones. Hmmm, makes me think of the lines from 19th century poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox, "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone…. Rejoice and men will seek you, Grieve and they turn and go…”

So, if humor in the workplace can improve work performance and build strong social relationships, what do hiring managers think of it? Specifically do hiring managers consider one's sense of humor as a criterion in choosing employees?

Well, hiring managers will say that certainly fit within an organization is one of the most important criterion to hiring. Of course, the prospective employee has to be qualified to do the job well. Assuming that, hiring managers want to know if the prospect will be an effective addition to the organization. Will they get along with the other employees? Studies show that a poor fit within an organization is far more likely to get you fired than whether you can do the job. In fact, only 15% of fired employees are let go due to incompetence, while 85% are fired for not getting along with others.

This begs the question, are funny co-workers more well-liked and more successful in business? Maybe, surmised Jenna Gaudreau in her excellent recent Forbes article entitled "Are Funny People More Successful in Business?" People who use humor in the office "will be perceived as more enjoyable and as better employees,” says Professor Anthony Sultanoff, a University of New Hampshire professor who researches this topic of humor in the workplace. Professor Sultanoff studies management and organizational behavior, and gleans from his research that “If someone is using humor, then they are connecting with people and building relationships, which creates opportunities that other people may not have.” However, Professor Sultanoff stresses, it must be the right kind of humor. It’s important to use positive, affirming humor versus negative hostile humor which tends “to target people, can be undermining and cause people to withdraw and be less motivated.” Positive humor “provides a sense of psychological safety that manages emotions and makes group members more willing to accept challenging goals.”

This is where humor in the workplace can get tricky since we all know that humor is relative. One man’s joking quip can be construed as another’s biting snip. Workplace humor is truly a balancing act and human resource professionals I spoke with suggested using caution. Overused humor can cause you to be seen as annoying and not serious. Inopportune humor can be dangerous.

Mike Myatt from Forbes suggests these eight tips on Workplace Humor to help you navigate that tricky humor path:

1.    Don’t confuse being a leader with being a comedian. Leadership is job number one.

2.    An attempt at bad humor is not an acceptable excuse for unacceptable behavior. Racist, sexist, ageist, and other forms of discriminating acts won’t be tolerated because you attempted to cloak them in bad humor.

3.    Use humor to lift people up, not to put them down. Don’t laugh at people – laugh with them.

4.    Don’t force it – if you’re trying too hard to be funny your humor will fall on deaf ears.

5.    Use your humor to make people feel more comfortable rather than more awkward.

6.    Gags and practical jokes should only be used when those on the receiving end find them funny.

7.    Don’t use humor to single someone out, use it to help them acclimate.

8.    Sarcasm is not a license to belittle someone. Saying “I was just joking” doesn’t cut it.

Let’s face it; funny people are just more fun to be around. Of course, those humorists have to be really good at their jobs, first and foremost. So what if you’re one of us who doesn’t have that sharp wit or was never good at delivering that punchline? Well, then, don't force it. Just try to be a happy, convivial co-worker. Smile a lot. Be cheerful and say hello to people. Compliment them when they deserve it. Try to support them when they need it. As the famous social networker Dale Carnegie would advise, “Focus outward, not inward.” Try to make others feel good. That’s as valuable around the water cooler as a quick wit any day. 



06/18/2016 5:29am

Some are the professional considering the hummer as a time wasting thing that is the bigger bluffing concept of their mid. Those kinds of the people should have to read this post. After that they will be automatically changing their perceptions.

09/17/2016 5:10am

I totally agree workplace humour can keep the company's environment really good. This is the reason we have the excellent environment at dagelan.co. Well thanks though for sharing excellent post.


Thanks a lot for all these 8 tips . I was searching for this kind of blog .

10/16/2016 11:34pm

Humor can be healing and it can be damaging too... just think before joking ;) And everything will be nice :)


The site is really nice and have a good source of learning about the new things. You are the best blogger.

05/25/2017 8:52pm

This is a good discussion. If a good sense of humor delivers good performance in one's job, I think its about time for our hiring managers to consider "humor" as one of the criterion in choosing an applicant. This is proven effective! Because in our office, most of us have a good sense of humor and usually share laughter together. The result? We are closer and that makes us united to reach a certain goal.


Well, it’s a nice one, I have been looking for. Thanks for sharing such informative stuff.


Much obliged to you for sharing such an enlightening data with us. Continue sharing the blog this way.


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