Use Humor Appropriately in the Workplace

Stand-up comedians will tell you that it’s oh-so-easy to bomb. In some ways, crashing and burning onstage can help funny men and funny women tinker with their material and come up with routines that are more pleasing. But that’s the club scene, where people willingly pay money to listen to jokes, drink and sometimes laugh.In the corporate world, things are rarely this funny. You and your co-workers may have some yuks once you get to know each other and establish common interests like funny TV shows or movies. But, for the most part, jokes are frowned dog laughing at a jokeupon. Your employee manual may not forbid humor, but there likely is a certain understanding that traditional targets from past generations (topics like the sexes and different cultures) are now considered off-limits.

On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with a happy workforce. Laughter doesn’t just enliven serious situations, it also can reduce boredom, improve productivity and can be downright good for our health.

So here comes Candidate A ready to wow the interview team and convince them that she’s exactly what’s needed for an open position. Or, even if it’s not a job interview, maybe it’s an opportunity to get her name out there in the hopes of future employment. Her resume is impeccable, her skill set is great and she wants to show that she’s fun, witty and enthusiastic. What can she do to stand out from the rest of the candidates she’s certain are much more serious and downright boring?

  • Don’t do a thing. HR professionals will say you have plenty of time for people to learn you’re funny – once you’re hired. Recruiter.com said that today’s business world has so many legal land mines, especially companies that work internationally, that what may be funny to you may be downright offensive to someone else.
  • Find safe topics to joke about. The same article said that a workplace-appropriate joke must not attack anyone or anything, especially something that can attack you back. It suggests “beagles, bunnies, computers or companies that make computer software like Microsoft” are the only allowed topics. Familiarity and frustration with Microsoft products is understood world-wide.
  • Make it helpful. Forbes suggests using jokes to help people up, help them be relaxed and comfortable, and find a way to laugh at something together.
  • Refer to other funny material. If you write an amusing personal blog, tell people to look at it on their own, provided you think it will be seen as an asset and not a liability. Consider printing business cards that include details about yourself and maybe a joke or simple pun that appeals to everyone. Greatcleanjokes.com suggests the standard should be something you can tell your grandma, but be funny enough for your friends.
Adam Cramden.  Adam is a business writer who loves to play guitar

 

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