Could Humor Be Your Key to Success?

If the best part of your job is that the chair swivels… sadly, you’re probably not alone.

We’re an overly serious lot when it comes to work.  According research noted in Harvard Business Review 

  • The average 4-year-old laughs 300 times a day, the average 40-year-old — only 4!
  • Far less during the week than on weekends

Yet the downside to this dearth of happiness is no laughing matter.  Seriously, good fun at work is good for business.

Funny Business?  No Joke

Here are some salient stats.

  • Humor gets hired. 98% of 737 CEOs surveyed preferred job candidates with a sense of humor to those without. –Hodge-Cronin & Associates survey
  • Fun-tastic employees rock. People who have fun on the job are more creative, more productive, better decision-makers, and get along better with co-workers. They also have fewer absentee, late and sick days than people who aren’t having fun. – Dr. David Abramis at Cal State Long Beach a longtime researcher of fun.

Add in the Mood-o-Meter, Too

Joseph Folkman’s “Mood And Engagement Are Contagious” Forbes article claims “The evidence is compelling that emotions are as contagious as a cold or the flu. They spread freely to others in an organization.”  Given how contagious moods are, Folkman offers some this sage advice

  • As a leader use your mood to your advantage to energize, inspire, encourage, support and build your team.
  • Be aware of the impact of your mood when you’re angry, discouraged or tired.
  • Remember — all moods count

Need to Check Your Foul Mood in at the Door?  Try This.

As the old proverb says, ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.’  Vanessa Van Edwards demonstrates “How to snap out of a funk.”

Why Happiness at Work – Works!*

  • As a tension-breaker… “People who laugh in response to a conflict tend to shift from thinking where they can see only one solution, to where multiple ideas are considered,” explains author of The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses are Laughing all the Way to the Bank Michael Kerr.
  • To connect and foster engagement People who use humor tend to be more approachable. “Especially as a leader, the more approachable you are, the more honest and open people around you will be, the more honest and open people tend to be, the more successful and innovative teams tend to be,” Kerr adds.
  • Lynn Taylor, workplace expert and author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant,” purports humor can
  • Increase productivity.“Humor creates an upbeat atmosphere that encourages interaction, brainstorming of new ideas, and a feeling that there are few risks in thinking outside the box. All that leads to greater productivity,” Taylor explains. “It also stands to reason that if you’re in a more jovial atmosphere, you’ll have more passion for what you do. Your work ethic will increase, and your enthusiasm will likely be contagious. It’s a win-win for you and your employer.
  • Allow your company to stand out.“It can help companies stand out and go beyond with their customer service, garnering them a huge loyal following,” he says. If you want to stand out from the pack, using humor with your service is an effective way to do that.

*These tips are culled from a Forbes article on 10 reasons why humor is a key to success at work.

Laugh Your Way Up the Ladder

Still not convinced?   Here’s what workplace powers that be believe….

  • 91% of executives believe a sense of humor is important for career advancement – Robert Half International survey
  • 84% feel that people with a good sense of humor do a better job. – Robert Half International survey
  • The two most desirable traits in leaders are a strong work ethic and a good sense of humor. – Bell Leadership Institute study

What’s So Funny?

Not sure how to tickle some funny bones?  Here are a few comedic cues:

  • There’s three underlying factors on what’s considered funny: reliefsuperiorityand incongruity, theorizes IMD business consultant Karsten Jonsen. With relief, humor saves us from showing feelings and displaying emotions – a great tension-breaker. Superiority is when humor is used to help us feel superior to other people – though it’s one that has a far narrower application in work.  Incongruity is we expect one thing to happen and get another – when an ah-ha becomes a ha-ha.
  • Surprise is one of the primary reasons why people laugh.It’s no wonder then that it’s also one of the primary building blocks for a successful joke… “Comedy is mentally pulling the rug out from under each person in your audience,” wrote Gene Perret. “But first, you have to get them to stand on it. You have to fool them, because if they see you preparing to tug on the rug, they’ll move.”
[Comedy Writing Secrets]
  • Real work-world examples:

Kadee Acree, Senior Director, Professional Services, shares that “Kronos publishes a weekly a silly cartoon highlighting how customers use our software to solve everyday workforce management and payroll challenges.   We recognize humor is a great stress-reliever. “

“My husband used humor a lot in his old company.  He’d start their Friday staff meetings with a funny you tube video or movie clip.  It wasn’t tied to any particular theme, but more meant to be fun and interactive,” Kadee adds.

“Humor was a great way to drive a lesson home.  When I needed to prove to our sales force that our ink was the most water-resistant, I printed up bulls-eyes, each identified with our and computers printers.  I armed the sales force with super-soakers and let ‘em at it.  It was a mess, but it drove the point home in a fun and unforgettable way – even after they refilled their super-soakers with alcohol and drank in the lesson,” explains Dana Greyson, marketing consultant from a top Fortune company.

Watch Out for these Not-So-Funny Faux Pas

You’re in the winner’s circle if you can make it provocative enough for a good grin, but offend no one.  Sound impossible?  You’ll be fine if you heed these five workplace humor hints….

  1. Laughing with is ok, laughing at, generally is not. The exceptions are a common “outsider” enemy, peers laughing privately at antics among the upper echelon,
  2. Complementary humor is ok, but belittling humor is considered mean-spirited and does more harm than good. ”Humor–deftly employed–is a great way to win friends and influence people. You need to be funny, but not snarky (that’s not good for team building),” cautions author of What the Most Successful People Do at Work Laura Vanderkam.
  3. Keep it PC (politically correct)… especially avoid humor that targets gender, nationality and culture, sexual preference, disabilities, and, especially these days, politics. Outside work what you consider funny is your business, not your employers.  Jokes made on social media might leak into your workplace; use prudence when you post.
  4. Multi-cultural? When working with different cultures, find out what’s considered not-so-funny and make sure they’re not joking matters.
  5. Treat humor like salt… know when to add it, and how much is too much. While self-deprecating humor lightens the workplace and makes its users more approachable, too much self-deprecating humor can undermine credibility. More than three jokes in a row without anyone else chiming is too much.

Seriously — “Funny Business” is Good Business

Now you’re in the know  — it’s a proven fact that mood and humor have a direct impact on company profitability, performance, employee engagement, retention, innovation and differentiation.  Humor and maintaining a good mood at work may be your secret to success when it comes to landing your next dream job or career advancement.

John Lennon, Beatles superstar, considered happiness his life’s work, and reminisced “My mother always told me happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down ‘happy.’  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment.  I told them they didn’t understand life.”  So, get out there and have some fun – on the job! 



Could Humor Be Your Key to Success?

Connie Dorigan, Founder and Director of Recruiting, sees the food processing industry as the link between good living and good people. She’s the west coast’s most experienced and trusted food processing recruiter. She also provides Executive and Career Coaching and lots of free job search tools. Once you’ve connected with Connie, you’ll always be connected.

© 2018 Connie Dorigan. All rights reserved.

This is a general interest article and does not constitute specific or legal advice.

Spread the love