Laughing Your Way Through Office Stress
By Judy Carter
If you're not laughing your way through your workday, you aren't alone. In this era of political correctness, Corporate America
has become humor impaired. Laughing at work evaporates
faster than Liquid Paper. People are afraid to tell jokes
because they might get fired for offending someone. Plus the boss
might think they don't take their work seriously. In some parts of the country,
people never laughed in the first place. And in West Los Angeles, one-out-of-every-three people can't laugh anymore -- too much Botox.
humor, fun and laughter to Corporate America! Matter of fact, a
sense of humor is an effective business tool that can help advance
I'm not suggesting that boasting about bodily functions or telling nun
jokes at the water cooler will secure a spot up the corporate ladder.
But humor can put clients at ease, lighten up a staff meeting, frame
memos that people actually read, and close a sale. Laughter is
also a great de-stressor. Studies have shown that when people are
having fun at work, they enjoy their jobs more, stay at them longer,
and do better work. That lowers the attrition rate for a company
and improves the bottom line. No joke!
Let's face it, we all want to work with, work for and even date people who
can make us laugh. So why do we abandon our sense of humor as soon as
soon as we back the car out of the garage? To
prevent bonkers-dom during the next work crisis -- or deter others
from calling in for airy-fairy mental-health holidays, consider these
tips on how to maintain a lighthearted attitude, build your network,
motivate staff and achieve your professional goals:
1. Joke about yourself - everyone else probably is. It's not a receding hairline -
s a punch-line! Take your
work and responsibilities seriously, but not yourself. People like
leaders who are willing to poke fun at themselves. A little
self-deprecating humor can go a long way, so admit and joke about your
shortcomings rather than try to hide them. I'm not suggesting that you say to your boss, "Yes, I am utterly
incompetent, ha ha!" Some things are best not advertised.
But a little light humor can set a positive tone for the workplace.
The next time someone asks you, "How are you?" Tell
them the truth - "I'm having a bad comb-over day."
2. Use humor in the stressful situations:
standup comic, I know that life's ups and downs are a great source for comic material. After all,
comedy material is based on the "bad" things that happen in
life. To a standup comic, it's not a miserable marriage, its comedy material. Likewise for a
sales presentation gone south. When an important client told
regional sales manager Bob, "After seeing this report, I
can tell that you are a complete idiot," Bob recouped.
Rather than getting defensive, he exaggerated the jibe. "You're so smart! You figured out I was an idiot in five minutes.
It usually takes people three months to figure that out about
me!" Bob kept his humor --and the client.
It's no wonder that politicians have comedy writers on their staff.
Democratic Presidential candidate Howard Dean turned to comedy to
stave off the political damage of his primal outburst in Iowa. Afterwards, Dean said, "Iowa
is behind me and now I look forward to screaming at voters in New Hampshire."
Okay, he still lost the election, but he kept his cool
about losing his cool.
3. Structure fun:
once a day, lighten up the office by doing something unexpected.
Humor and joking aren't reserved for the brazen. Southwest Airlines has proved that a little
risk is worth the pay off. Its flight attendants are known to
sing the emergency announcement over the public address system.
Managers wear pig noses during corporate meetings. And guess what?
Southwest has the lowest attrition and absenteeism and most productive
workforce in the industry, not to mention a reputation for highly
creative and innovative management.
4. Diffuse conflict with humor:
defensive lowers your status, builds tension and leads to bad business
decisions. If you hear a negative comment, can you put a positive spin
on it? This is a comic's trick. For example, one woman didn't like her co-worker claim that she was aggressive. Her response:
"Why thank you. I understand our Secretary of State has been
called that too, so I'm in good company!"
boss says, “Smile, you look prettier when you smile.”
Just say, “Thank you. And
I look drop dead gorgeous when I get a raise!”
negative people are all around us. Sometimes they are our bosses and
sometimes they're working in the next cubicle. Whatever the situation, don't leave your humor in the hallway. "This report is just as
bad as your last report!" "Well, at least I'm consistent!"
But then let your boss know that you heard the
underlying message too, and that if there is a way to accomplish a
task that would be more effective, you'll try. It's just that you won't suffer.
in tense deliberations, a strategically placed joke can shift power to
your side. When Ronald Reagan was under pressure to defend his
economic policies, he said, "I am not worried about the deficit.
It is big enough to take care of itself."
5. Keep yourself in the comedy zone:
giving a speech that has a list of items, add humor by making the 3rd
item a surprise. For example "There are three things that are
troubling the world today: terrorism, the war in Iraq, and Britney Spears is going to be a mother!"
t wait for life to get the better of you to get a sense of humor.
It's not what happens that determines your happiness; it's how you chose to look at it. When things happen that make you
want to call suicide hotline, remember: You have a choice. You
can get stressed out and drink, or you can laugh… and drink!
So don't get mad, get funny.
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