P Person-Is this the right person? What kind of a relationship do I have a with this person?
W Workplace-Does this fit with Workplace ethics, rules and agreements?
I Integrity-Does this uplift the Integrity of others and myself?
T Timing-How is my timing? Both comedic and professional?
"Nothing is quite as funny as the unintended humor of reality". -Steve Allen
In researching this article I called upon Dr. Joel Goodman, director of The Humor Project in Saratoga Springs, New York, editor of Laughing Matters magazine and author of many books including Laffirmations-1000 ways to add Humor to your Life and Work.. In 1978 I took a sabbatical and worked with Dr. Goodman at The Humor Project. He has worked internationally with humor in organizations and sponsors the annual Positive Power of Humor and Creativity Conference in New York.
Joel has continually modeled and taught me that there is no conflict in taking our jobs seriously and ourselves lightly and that humor connects people.
Dr. Goodman defines humor as creative self expression that is an attitude, a perspective, a way of looking at life and a way of laughing at life. Humor is prepared flexibility . Humor is power. You canít always control situations around you but you can control your internal responses to them with humor
"The richest humor is at no oneís expense" Joel Goodman
He believes that constructive humor in the workplace must pass the AT&T Test. Is the humor Appropriate? Is it Tasteful? Is it Timely? Avoid sarcasm, put downs and ridicule and concentrate on esteem building humor. Remember that one size does not fit all. Are you laughing with others or laughing at others? " Invite rather than impose humor. See what brings joy to the environment, and makes people laugh and then try to invite occasions for that to happen," Joel says."Humor is a way to keep us sane and keep our dignity when we face insane or inhuman situations."
Warning: Humor may be hazardous to your Illness
Of course issues of taste and appropriateness and timing are individually and culturally constructed. Free flowing humor among colleagues may need some understanding of the relationship first. You donít want to miss out on the benefits of humor in the workplace so it is important to know your personal and organizational values about humor. Consider this rationale and how to from The Humor Project .
1. " A smile is the shortest distance between two people" according to Victor Borge. Positive working relationships and morale have important implications in these times when creative teamwork is essential to organizational innovation.
2. Jest for the Health of it! People who laugh, last. Avoid stress and burnout.
Joke telling it's not the only way to transmit humor. Here are four tips:
1. Put humor in the physical environment- by osmosis, it may filter into peopleís awareness. Use posters, sayings etc.
2.Use humor as a tool rather than a weapon- Laughing with others builds confidence, brings people together and pokes fun at our common dilemmas. Laughing at others destroys confidence, ruptures teamwork, and singles out individuals as the butt of a joke.
3. Build humor into the corporate culture. Ben and Jerryís established a Joy Committee offering Joy grants to their employees who have an idea that will bring more joy into the workplace.
4. Humorís Bottom Line -Tom Peters says, " The number one premise of business is that it need not be boring or dull. It ought to be fun. If itís not fun, youíre wasting your life." Set the tone by modeling your ability to laugh at yourself and to tell stories on yourself.
Quick! Reach for your humor file! Donít have one? Move from grim and bear it to grin and share it.
Our present work environments of competition and downsizing and doing more with less and long commutes are often overly stressful. We are required to work smarter but authoritarian control and stress rob us of our innate brilliance. Humor allows new possibilities which bring new ideas and innovation.
We need to develop managers that have an entrepreneurial, humorous and creative spirit . Repetition, solemnness, boredom, fear and conformity (oh my!) are not the friends of creativity. Creative environments need a certain amount of playfulness and then serious business results can be seen. Dr. Goodman says "We need to take humor more seriously and welcome it in the workplace because our quality of work life is important. Humor is the best, most delightful, most effective way of improving quality of work life.Build an environment where you can share wild ideas. Stretch your thinking until you can see that what seems impossible is possible. If you donít feel free to share your wild ideas you may be missing the best idea or the one that you fear may be the one that will help you the most. It is easier to tame down an idea than to think one up in the first place. "
For more humor information you can visit www.humorproject.com Dr. Goodman is currently collecting stories for a new book, Chicken Soup for the Laughing Soul. You can email your stories about humor in life and work (with the story in the body of your email and not in an attachment) to email@example.com
Maggie Finefrock is CLO of The Learning Project. She uses humor and creativity in her work in organizational development and mediation.
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