Ho Ho Ho Ho Off to Work We Go
Managing director Jim Venables said: “An upbeat working environment creates a better atmosphere and, when used appropriately, humour can encourage higher staff morale and more energy.
“It’s about taking what you do very seriously while not taking yourself too seriously!”
Ros Coleman, stress therapist and former vice chairman of the International Stress Management Association UK, said: “Humour in the workplace can enhance motivation and team building, as well as helping to promote health and workplace wellness.
“It can also reduce workplace stress and tension. Often jokes and gags can be used as a tool to knock down personal barriers and help build lasting interpersonal relationships with your co-workers.”
So is the message to don a clown’s costume every morning, assemble your team and tell them a Joke of the Day?
No, but that is a good example of one form of humour – sarcasm! It is the lowest form of wit and one of the toughest to apply successfully.
One office I experienced had its own practical joker. He liked to pour water from the cooler down unsuspecting victim’s necks. Did it boost morale? No, everyone lived in fear.
Perhaps use exaggeration? Well, I’ve tried that a trillion times but it rarely works.
What about humorous phrases? Perhaps, but success can be as difficult as juggling soot.
Mr Venables’s key words about humour are “when used appropriately”.
I am a great believer that very carefully used humour can defuse potentially explosive situations.
When tempers run high, a gently spoken “ding, ding – end of round one” and a smile may just defuse the situation.
Often people have become entrenched and do not feel they can back down. Offering them a bridge to cross without losing face, via humour, may be just what they were secretly hoping for.
Some people use humour as a mask, such as to hide personal trauma or illness. They are often most adept at this strategy since it may have been their coping mechanism for years.
Others are genuinely full of the joys of life and can be a true pleasure to work around.
So yes, humour can improve the workplace by reducing tension, boosting morale and enhancing team-working.
Beware, though, how you apply it. Sending an e-mail or letter containing sarcasm is an accident waiting to happen. The fun emotion can become totally lost when committed to screen or paper.
If you insist on using it, add little smiley characters such as although even this is risky. My advice is to seek opportunities to use humour at work, but only when it feels right and natural for you. Forcing yourself to be funny will be as useful as a chocolate fireguard.
Preferably apply any humour face to face so you can gauge the response.
Get all that right and relationships with your colleagues will indeed blossom.
Anyway, did I tell you the one about Mother Superior and the sheep?