Give Yourself a Break: Bring More Humor into Your Workplace

February 27, 2023 9:09 am Published by

Our lives can be demanding and full of stressful situations. And while humor can’t eliminate the strain of daily life, it can lighten our mental load. Humor, laughter and smiling are easy, inexpensive antidotes to negativity and difficult circumstances. Humor relieves stress and improves our mental health, and it’s not just good for our personal lives – it can be important part of our work experience too.

Even though we don’t really need research to confirm what we all know, here a few facts from the Mayo Clinic. Laughter:

  • improves our mood
  • decreases the stress we are experiencing
  • increases oxygen flow to our heart, lungs, and internal organs
  • releases endorphins in our brain
  • stimulates circulation and relaxation
  • relieves pain
  • boosts our immune system

Why Humor at Work Matters

The workplace has been a source of amusement and entertainment for a long time. We’ve enjoyed poking fun at our work lives in comic strips like Cathy and Dilbert, the 1999 movie The Office, and television sitcoms from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to The Office and Parks and Recreation. But injecting humor and fun into your own work situation comes with numerous benefits.

In their article, “Benefits of Humor in the Workplace,” BetterUp writes, “But done correctly, humor in the workplace can be a powerful force for good. Using the right kind and amount of humor at work can have several key benefits.” More than just lightening the mood, it increases comradery and interpersonal bonding, is good for morale and leads to more cohesive teams. Levity that comes from shared human experience helps us form social bonds and increases feelings of closeness.

Bringing More Humor to the Office

But what are the best ways to bring more humor into your work environment? The Harvard Business Review has weighed in on the subject with their article “How to Be Funny at Work.”  “Research shows that teams that laugh together are more engaged and creative. So how do we bring more humor into the workplace, even in trying times?  First, recognize that you don’t have to be a class clown or a comedian to be funny. Everyone has their own humor style, and studies show that any kind of levity brings benefits.”

BetterUp adds “These days, there is an unending supply of laugh-out-loud funny internet content. You can easily look up humor in the workplace quotes to find work-appropriate memes, quotes and videos you can share with your coworkers. Sharing the content you love with others can help you bond with coworkers that have similar senses of humor. Of course, there’s a time and a place for everything, and every meeting doesn’t have to be a series of Instagram memes.”

The recent transition to remote and hybrid work has been a constant source of humor for many. From the different types of personalities and remote work arrangements to the strange things we see and talk about when we work remotely.

Ways to Share the Laughter

More opportunities exist to insert humor into daily work than we can list, but here are some places you can infuse some smiles and laughter into your work day and with your colleagues:

   -link to them in an email (either a “see this” email, or added to the end of a regular work email)

   -at the beginning of a meeting – to begin on a lighter note

   -at the end of a meeting – to lighten the mood as people leave to implement action steps

   -during a presentation (cartoons are great, videos are better)

   -print the cartoon or joke and leave it on someone’s desk

The Mayo Clinic article reminds us to “put humor on your horizon” by keeping photographs, comic strips and other things that make you laugh or smile at your desk.

A Few Guiding Principles

While jokes, humorous stories, funny pictures and videos are great to share at work, NOT ALL jokes, stories and visual images are appropriate to share. For those of you that may have some challenges in identifying the boundaries, here are a few guidelines:

  • Using yourself as the object of humor (versus someone else) is usually a good idea
  • Avoid content that is sexual in nature (either directly or through innuendo or “double meanings”)
  • Stay clear of foul language or cuss words (even if some of the word is s****k out)
  • Don’t be condescending towards groups of people

Laughing together regularly will create a more positive work environment AND create a greater sense of camaraderie among you and your colleagues. So give yourself a break and make time laugh.

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February 27, 2023 9:09 am

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