No joke! Laughing can improve your work

'On the Job'

No joke! Laughing can improve your work

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

If your job involves creative problem-solving, hope it’s your sense of humor hammering on the door. And by all means let it in, because decades of research show a close relationship between humor and creativity.

People with a sense of humor tend to be more creative. They’re also less rigid and more willing to consider and embrace new ideas and methods.

And you don’t even have to be the one with the one-liners to reap the benefits of humor at work. Being in a meeting or brainstorming session with funny folks can lighten the atmosphere, allow new ideas to flow and help solve difficult problems.

You don’t have to be born a stand-up comedian to enjoy humor at work. Try these ways to bring more laughter to your work life:

  • Use humor as an ice-breaker to start a meeting. Ask people what’s the funniest thing that happened to them this week.
  • Dress up for holidays. Wear a silly hat on Halloween or lots of green on St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Smile more. It’s contagious and can lead to laughter. If you’re a naturally solemn person, this may take practice. It’s worth it.
  • Keep a toy on your desk. It’ll make you smile and can be a great conversation-starter.
  • Use a humorous page-a-day calendar. Pass along the ones that make you laugh out loud.
  • If you’re hiring a new employee, look for evidence of good humor skills to make sure you’re bringing creativity to the team.

Allowing your sense of humor to show at work can also help create stronger bonds with colleagues and enhance teamwork. Take your work seriously; yourself, not so much. If you work someplace where the boss thinks you’re not being productive if you’re laughing, you might want to consider whether that’s the kind of environment you want to be in half your waking hours.

Of course, appropriate workplace humor requires some common sense and judgment. Off-color, racist and sexist jokes are never OK at work (and really, we hope those aren’t part of your off-the-clock repertoire, either). Howling like a hyena or constantly cutting up will undermine your credibility. And if your wisecracks are more like snide remarks, you’ll be branded as cynical and disengaged.

Laughing is good for you. It boosts your immune system, relaxes tension, releases endorphins and can even help protect you from a heart attack.

It can also boost your career. And that’s no joke.

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