Keeping a Sense of Humor at Work (and in Life)

People approach life in a variety of ways – some very seriously – others not. Keeping a sense of humor when working with your colleagues can go a long way towards creating a more positive and productive environment. Using humor helps lower stress, put things into perspective, and assists in making personal connections through a shared moment of laughter. Often you’ll find that well-respected leaders have a good sense of humor…

For instance, in 'Leadership Without Presumption: Lessons From Eisenhower' Samuel Bacharach writes, "Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Always take your job seriously, never yourself.” His first priority was getting the job done, and he knew that humor helped. He said, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”

Bacharach adds, "Leaders need to be serious and focused when pushing agendas, but they must have a sense of humor throughout the process. Humor helps deal with the inevitable roadblocks."

Humor builds and boosts morale within the workforce. Andrew Tarvin in '30 Benefits of Humor at Work' mentions a great many reasons to employ a sense of humor at work including better communication and persuasion, connecting with others, improved decision-making, providing motivation and overall health benefits such as reducing stress and increased happiness.

"I’m incredibly passionate about humor in the workplace and not because it’s fun. As an engineer, the reason why I care about using humor is that it works. It’s effective with the one thing you can’t be efficient with, human beings."

Laughter is the best medicine as the old saying goes. And humor greatly reduces stress while helping put things in perspective and increasing focus on the task(s) at hand. Keeping that ‘spring in your step’ to give us all ‘a leg up’ when accomplishing the steps needed to reach our goals. The renowned institution – the Mayo Clinic has studied the effect of humor and found that it really is just what the doctor ordered:

"A good sense of humor can't cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do." In the short term, a good laugh actually induces physical changes including stress management, soothing tension, and activating and relieving stress responses. Plus, long-term effects are realized as well such as improving the immune system, relieving pain and improving mood.

So don’t take life, or yourself, too seriously. Keeping things in perspective through brevity and a sense of humor does you – and those around you – a world of good.