5 Tips for Using Humor to Your Advantage

Go ahead and laugh. Your sense of humor can enhance your prospects for a great design career and build camaraderie with your colleagues. In fact, nearly eight in 10 (79 percent) executives surveyed by Robert Half said an employee’s sense of humor is important for fitting into the company’s corporate culture. And collegiality is especially important for creative teams.

Why the focus on levity? Displaying a sense of humor on the job shows you don’t take yourself too seriously and helps relieve tension when creative conflicts or project deadlines loom. A comic touch also helps you build rapport with clients and creative professionals around you, opening the lines of communication. The truth is, humor makes you more fun to be around, something that should never be underestimated.

But before you bubble wrap a colleague’s cube or fill the conference room with packing peanuts, you need to know the do’s and don’ts of office jokes. Humor should be appropriate for your workplace and never at the expense of others. Following are five tips for showing your lighter side:

1. Check the “pulse” at work. You likely wouldn’t sport yoga pants and your favorite ’N Sync tee at a conservative workplace; finding your humor “style” is much the same. Make sure it fits your environment, whether you work in a design agency or a corporate creative group. Humor with an edge may go over better in more entrepreneurial environments, while more subtle comments fit in at established corporations.

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2. Laugh at yourself. Did you make a funny typo in a recent memo? Go ahead, poke fun at your foible. It puts others at ease, and you don’t risk offending anyone by making someone else the target of your joke. Just be sure to keep your comments light–you don’t want your coworkers to think your attempt at humor is a cry for help.

3. Say no to sarcasm. People often use humor as an indirect way of berating others. Here’s an example: “I can’t believe you turned this project in on deadline. Is it a special occasion?” Sarcasm is rarely a good idea. If a comment is negative and rings somewhat true, don’t say it. Likewise, steer clear of wisecracks, pranks or practical jokes that are hurtful or insensitive.

4. Don’t ham it up. Making a funny comment to ease tension during a meeting is a great idea, but don’t follow it with five more jokes. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard. Effortless mastery—or at least the appearance of ease—is the key to good comedy.

5. Laugh with others. You can be perceived as having a great sense of humor without ever telling a joke. Just tune in to the humor styles of your design colleagues and share in their merriment.

Your work life will be better off with a little laughter. When handled with care, levity is a great ice breaker and tension diffuser, and can help you build rapport with others.

(featured photo from Shutterstock)

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