Today I received an email in which my C-level client contact referred to himself in the third person as a “yahoo”. Last week, another client sent me a note where he jokingly questioned whether we had to include a photo of a certain sales team member in an e-newsletter. Reading both of these emails, I giggled. It also got me thinking about the merit of humor in the workplace.
I know I’m fortunate to work with a diverse group of people – from colleagues to clients – who mostly value having a sense of humor. I’ve always had an appreciation for people who are smart and buttoned up, yet don’t take themselves too seriously.
Most of us log 40+ hours a week on average. No matter how passionate you are about your line of work, days can be long, conference calls can be tedious and deadlines can sometimes seem impossible. Personally, I’m grateful when someone adds a bit of humor to my workday – like one client who refers to me as “Leckster” or another who once texted me when I didn’t respond to his email joke fast enough.
I’m not advocating that we start meetings with a stand-up comedy routine, but a well-placed joke here and there can help alleviate the stress of daily life.
Humor is largely dependent on company culture, according to Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and president of Humor at Work.
“In workplaces that encourage people to be themselves – that are less hierarchical and more innovative – people tend to be more open with their humor,” Kerr told Forbes. “Even people who aren’t always comfortable sharing their humor tend to do so in more relaxed environments where the use of humor becomes second nature with everyone’s style.”
Kerr’s insight resonated with me. At RoseComm, when pitching ourselves, we tout the fact that we’re not into hierarchy. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I feel OK about cracking a joke here and there and also why my clients feel confident doing the same. Some of the best team building exercises in which I’ve participated were improv sessions where everyone was laughing. I’m a strong believer in humor as a motivator and uniting force.
In closing, a riddle:
Question: What do you call a top-notch PR executive who also has a solid sense of humor?
Answer: Leckster, of course. Duh. Weren’t you paying attention?