There’s a saying (whose author, unfortunately, is unknown): “Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.” Not only survival, I’d argue – every “success kit” should necessarily include it as well.
There’s a reason why motivational speakers start with a joke or a humorous anecdote — it captures the audience’s attention, lightens the mood, sets positive expectations and motivates everyone to be more productive. In a study from the Journal of Applied Psychology, just one use of humor among work teams resulted in improved performance not just immediately, but up to two years later. Levity also improves recall. It is often the shortest pipeline to the memory banks.
How much bantering can be considered acceptable depends on your corporate culture. But even in the stuffiest boardroom, there is an appreciation of well-timed lightheartedness. An upbeat atmosphere encourages innovation and smart risks, which lead to greater productivity.
As a manager, you can help develop an atmosphere of tasteful, positive humor in your team. To put it plainly, a funny boss gets more love and respect than a grumpy one. And if sometimes jokes turn your way, take solace in another saying, this one by Taki Theodoracopulos: “Humor is a reminder that no matter how high the throne one sits on, one sits on one’s bottom.”
Check out some tips on applying “intelligent humor” to your job in my Psychology Today blog.