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Five Points to Ponder Before Putting Humor to Work

If you want to brand your business (or yourself) with humor or add some humor to a presentation or to your customer service mix, here’s a checklist of sorts to consider:

1. First, Do No Wrong. Great advice for doctors or would-be corporate jesters. Make sure the humor you use is laughing with people, not at people. Laugh at yourself, not in a, “I’m a loser” kind of way, but in a way that lets people know you don’t take yourself overly seriously. Stay clear of political, ethnic, gender or sex-based humor. Remember that having permission to use more humor at work is not permission to act like a jackass, a bore, or a jerk. It doesn’t give you license to offend or humiliate people, or disparage their character. It’s about being more human, having a bigger heart, and demonstrating greater humility. 2. Be Authentic. Humor can break down barriers and build trust, provided the humor used creates and reflects authenticity. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “The whole object of comedy is to be yourself. The closer to that you get, the funnier you will be.” This applies at a corporate level as well. Customers are savvier than ever and more cynical than ever. They’ll see through halfhearted attempts at humor that seem to be nothing more than manipulative and insincere window dressing.

3. Be Congruent With Your Brand. The humor you use at a corporate level must fit your style. It needs to be congruent with your brand. if you have a classy brand, then your humor, for the most part, should be classy. If you want to be shutterstock_126683501known as an edgy company, then use edgy humor. Make sure the humor contributes to and reflects the brand image you want to project.

4. Be Relevant. The more the humor you use at your workplace is relevant to your business, the more memorable and effective it will be. Humor for the sake of humor can be a fabulous tool, but relevant humor that ties into your unique challenges, issues, products, local attractions, branding, and industry is far more effective.

5. Embrace a Spirit of Fun. It’s more important to embrace a spirit of fun than to be funny. Embracing a spirit of fun suggests a lightness, a willingness to play, and a spirit of inclusiveness. A spirit of fun brings people together, motivates the troops, and sparks creative thinking. And a spirit of fun recognizes a central point in all of this: It’s about enjoying and celebrating the journey.

Michael Kerr, November 2014. Michael is listed as one of Canada’s most in-demand speakers. He travels the world researching and speaking about inspiring workplaces and humor in the workplace.

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