LOL: Why humour is the key to success at work

By Robert Half on 12 October 2014

Truth is, there are plenty of benefits of cracking a joke or two while in the workplace. The catch is to not get too carried away.

People tend to tone humour down at work in Asia and your office is probably the last place you’ll expect to clown around in. But a well-employed joke or two could actually be beneficial for your career and boost success at work.

Read on and find out why a good sense of humour can have several advantages.

You appear more approachable

Humour is a great way of bringing together people from different levels of the company hierarchy. Employees are probably more likely to feel comfortable around a manager who cracks the occasional self-deprecating joke than one who constantly maintains a stiff upper lip.

Reduces stress levels and builds team morale

As the old saying goes, “laughter is the best medicine”. When used correctly, humour is a great way of diffusing a tense situation and can help clear your mind to focus on solving the work problem.

Builds trust and forges bonds

People tend to put on their game face when at work and may take themselves too seriously, so when someone displays their sense of humour, it’s a refreshing change of pace. It allows you to show more of the true personality behind your “professional mask”, and is a great way of chipping away at the walls we tend to put up while at work. This, in turn leads to an increase in productivity and creativity.

Produces smarter, better work 

Humour and creativity are both similar in the sense that it involves looking at the same thing as everyone else and seeing something else. Both involve taking a risk, toying with different ideas and coming up with new and often unlikely associations. Think about it, don’t you find it easier to hit on a bright idea when you’re chilling with your colleagues over a beer compared to when all of you are holed up in a staid meeting room?

However, it’s important to remember that there’s a time and place for humour. It’s never appropriate to crack sexist, ageist, racist or any other form of discriminatory jokes, even if you brush it off it with a “Just kidding”. Always laugh along with people, not at them. Use humour to lift people up, not put them down.

Also, you have to be mindful about who your audience is. If you’re in a meeting with a roomful of serious senior executives, it may not be the best of settings to goof around. But if you’re at a company retreat with these same executives and everyone is in a relaxed mood, a well-timed pun or wisecrack could actually position you in a positive light.

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