100 Micro-Chuckles

Today marks the 100th episode of the WorkBytes Blogtoon!  In show business, reaching the 100 episode mark means a tv show can go into syndication.  But we would never do that to you! We’ll keep serving up fresh micro-chuckles daily.

Do you like to laugh?  I'm guessing you said yes to this, if not you can skip this post.  People like to laugh, but how often do you laugh at work? Seriously, how often?  Go ahead and track how many times you laugh today. I’m guessing It’s not enough.

Why don’t we laugh more at work?  Are we too busy? Does it give the impression that we’re not taking things seriously?  Have you been scared into thinking that most of your humor is unacceptable?

I was told that making jokes was rude.  Just to be clear, my jokes weren’t rude, just the simple fact that I was making jokes was seen as disrespectful.  Why is that? When did fun become a bad thing?

There are many studies that document the benefits of laughing, everything from team bonding to creative solutions improves with laughter.  People who laugh are more open to ideas, they are easier to work with. Teams that use humor are more innovative.

How can you increase the laughter in your workplace?

Share a joke.  Yup open your meeting with a joke.  Notice what happens during the rest of that meeting?  Did it change the tone?

Make a wisecrack.  You have it inside.  You text it to your co-worker.  You tell people your wisecrack after the meeting.  Go ahead and make it in the meeting.

Be Silly.  I was recently informed that my use of the word ‘silly’ was insulting.  Silly is the highest compliment I can think of! If you can’t be funny, be silly.  It lightens the mood, it opens people up. And will it reflect poorly on, like you are not serious?  Yes, it might, who cares? You will still show results and get great outcomes.

Laugh at Yourself.  When you laugh at yourself, it sets the tone for the rest of your team. Showing that you don’t take yourself so seriously, opens up people’s minds.  If you are afraid that laughing at yourself will undermine your power, I encourage you to examine that belief.

Don’t insult people. Hopefully, this goes without saying but... We have become so conditioned to be politically correct that our jokes are no longer funny.  Being aware of what will hurt people is a good thing. Being afraid to say anything is a bad thing.  If you are making jokes in good spirit and not at the expense of others you are usually in good shape.  Sometimes you might hurt someone by accident. If this happens, apologize.

Cut the fake, polite humor.  When I first graduated college I got a job at a large telecom company.  I was absolutely shocked at the poor quality of the humor used around the office! Was I destined to live out my days subjected to milquetoast jokes like “working hard or hardly working?” with polite snickers in response?  

If these are your jokes, just stop.  They are not jokes. They are bids for connection, and I appreciate that, but please step it up a bit.

Practice with exercises.  “Variation on a theme” is a great way to spark creative office humor. When you give people tight constraints, some real creativity can emerge.  You might start creating silly buzzwords and using them in meetings. Or perhaps you come up with crazy ways to use new technology.  What is the most outlandish thing you can do with blockchain? Oh wait, cryptokitties are already out there.  (nope, I’m not kidding).

Not only do exercises like this get your team laughing, they also start building muscles are innovation.

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