I’m a fan of fun work environments. So of course, I’m also a fan of humor at work.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should all pretend to be stand-up comedians. And I’m not talking about snide remarks, disrespectful jokes, or pranks at someone else’s expense. Work is serious business. But does it really need to be so very, deeply serious all the time? I don’t think so.
A touch of humor is a natural way to engage people and lighten the mood. For instance, who doesn’t enjoy taking a moment to bond with a colleague over a funny meme?
In my opinion, sharing a chuckle or a smile with someone keeps us connected at a very human level. And fortunately, I don’t have to look far to find an expert who agrees with me! So join me for this #WorkTrends podcast episode, as I take a look closer at the special power of humor at work:
Meet Our Guest: David Horning
Today, I’m comparing notes with David Horning, a professional comedian who took the leap from making people laugh on stage to becoming a business consultant. Now he helps others learn how to use positive psychology, communication skills, and humor to manage difficult work situations and enhance organizational culture.
Humor vs. Comedy
First, let’s talk about the word humor. What is it exactly and how is it different from comedy?
Well, humor and creativity are similar in many ways. Humor is a pattern disruptor.
Basically, it is an internal process that lets us be okay with holding two competing thoughts at the same time. Humor allows us to connect those dots in new ways. It connects different ideas. And it also connects similar ideas in new ways.
So basically it disrupts preconditioned thought patterns and introduces new possibilities. Think of it as the crack in the door that allows us to see beyond a circumstance, a challenge, adversity, or even trauma of some sort.
Why Workplace Humor Matters
Do you think humor is playing a more important role in work culture?
Oh definitely. It’s catching on, and with good reason.
Studies show that CEOs prefer employees with a sense of humor. In fact, if you display your sense of humor at work, you’re perceived as being more intelligent, more likable, and CEOs think you’re doing a better job.
Not only that, but employees prefer bosses who don’t take themselves so seriously.
What If You’re Not Funny?
Some people just don’t have a funny bone in their body. What do you tell them when it comes to humor as a vital skill?
Actually, you don’t have to be funny. That’s the great thing about incorporating humor into the workplace. You can appreciate it in others.
Celebrate people who are bringing sunshine into the office – people who are surrounded by laughter – your more creative thinkers.
You can be the most analytical person in the world, but anybody can develop an appreciation for humor, for laughter, for comedy. We all have that capability. All you really need is to give yourself permission to think outside of the box, to think beyond the strict labels we tend to give things.
How Leaders Can Support a Culture of Humor at Work
What advice do you have for a manager who’s unsure about supporting humor at work?
First, if you’re nervous about it, don’t overwhelm yourself. But keep in mind that when humor is used in the workplace, it should be consistent with your organization’s values.
For example, if respect is one of your values and a joke you’re about to tell isn’t respectful, pump the brakes. Using those shared values as your baseline is a great place to start.
For more excellent advice from David about how to tap into the power of humor at work, listen to this full episode. Also, be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. And to continue this conversation on social media, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.