Humor in the workplace

As a businessperson who doesn’t have much time for reading because you have to go back to your businessing, you are probably wondering: Are there any contrived metaphors I can remember as a takeaway for how I can utilize humor in the workplace? Why, yes, there are: bridges and ladders.

Bridges are tools to build bonds, increase trust, and strengthen cultures. That is not what bridges in real life do, so a better metaphor might be “magnets” or “food,” but we figured you businesspeople mostly skim and don’t think too deeply about words.

The reason humor works as a bridge (just go with it) is that laughter sparks the release of oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates social bonding, increases trust, and quickens self-disclosure. This is key in a workplace since all the other ways to release oxytocin are no longer permitted by Human Resources. In a 2015 study, psychologists Alan Gray, Brian Parkinson, and Robin Dunbar had participants watch either a funny or neutral video clip before engaging in a self-disclosure exercise with a stranger: People who watched the funny clip revealed 30% more personal information relative to those who watched the neutral clip.

Humor can help you land your dream job as well. A survey of more than 700 CEOs by Hodge-Cronin and Associates showed that 98% of CEOs prefer job candidates with a sense of humor and 84% think that people with a sense of humor do better work. Dwight Eisenhower said, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”

Here are 10 reasons why humor is necessary at work:

  1. People will enjoy working with you.
  2. Humor is a potent stress buster.
  3. It is humanizing.
  4. It puts others at ease.
  5. It helps build trust.
  6. Humor is a key ingredient in creative thinking
  7. It boosts morale.
  8. People who use humor tend to be more approachable.
  9. Humor can allow your company to stand out.
  10. It can increase productivity.

Harvard Business Review had this to say about it: