Humor in the workplace is priceless. After all, employees around you are spending time with you away from their families or away from some of the things in life they’d rather be doing. Investing in the relationship with them using humor will help employees, peers and customers alike. Why? For two reasons:
- Humor helps build a productive environment. Any team that uses humor as a way to stay relaxed is building an environment of confidence and trust. Confidence comes from those around you seeing you as “one of them”. Humor helps to grow this confidence. Self deprecating humor, to a degree, is helpful for this confidence, too... especially from the leader. We are more approachable when humor is used and being approachable is an important step toward building trust.
- Humor helps to build rapport in relationships. Rapport is the connection it takes to work together. It’s the comfort level that comes about when teammates are communicating. Simply put, injecting humor in the workplace helps people feel more comfortable to share what’s on their mind and get ideas out there.
I‘d like to make a distinction in that the kind of humor I’m referring is not to be confused with sarcasm. Sarcasm is using humor with the intent to do harm. Some people can tolerate it and some can’t. You’ll never really know until it’s too late. As a leader, you have the ability to set the example and keep sarcasm out of the workplace. Kidding around is usually ok, but if you’re not absolutely sure that what you’re saying is helpful (or if it can be construed as sarcasm), then it’s best to leave it alone.
So, lighten up and live a little at work. Humor is not only fun, but it can also be used as a way to build a productive environment and rapport. In that environment, more gets done.
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