The Humor Advantage

Having a sense of humor is about adopting a spirit of playfulness and fun. It’s about appreciating the incongruous events and absurd moments that filtter by us every day. It’s about embracing a sense of balance, a sense of perspective and a sense of humanity. Like our other senses, humor is a way of interpreting and filtering the events in the world round us.

The amount or type of humor you’ll find in any given workplace depends almost entirely on the culture. In workplaces that encourage people to be themselves–that are less hierarchical and more innovative–people tend to be more open with their humor. Even people who aren’t always comfortable sharing their humor tend to do so in more relaxed environments where the use of humor becomes second nature with everyone’s style.

Too often, the desire to “be professional” is used as an excuse to downplay or even banish any semblance of fun and humor at work. “Acting professional” becomes synonymous with being earnest, acting solemn, playing it safe, or leaving one’s personality at home. Acting professional can even become code for championing style over substance: It doesn’t matter what you actually do, so long as you look and sound professional.

But there’s nothing remotely professional about acting like an automaton. To be playful and serious at the same time is possible, and it defines the ideal mental condition. That’s the essence of humor that needs to be embraced — not feared — at the highest levels of management.

Having a sense of humor is about being authentic. Rarely are we more real than when we laugh. We are never more human than when humor shatters the professional masks we sometimes wear to reveal the true human being lurking beneath the corporate façade. This is likely why studies show a positive correlation between humor and trust: We tend to trust people more when we sense they are the real deal, and humor helps us appear more vulnerable and more genuine.

Summing-up: Humor is a comfort, a catalyst, and a connector that any employee can include in their toolkit to help them achieve better results.

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