The Power of Humor

There is this secret power in the world. Some people seem to naturally possess it, others have to fake it, and some don’t even know what it means: the power of humor. It is amazing how quickly humor breaks down barriers and makes you seem more approachable. I joined a new team today, and the first thing I did was send them a comic telling them I hoped they could start off the day with a smile. Instant rapport. I’m not saying they trust me with their lives or anything, but I do think it opened the channels of communication.

I’ve had the opportunity to be on a few project teams, and I find the ones that laugh and still get stuff done have the best long-term results. The extremes of the humor spectrum are not good. On the one side, you have a team which never gets anything completed since they are always having a good time. On the other, you have a productive team with low morale such that they’d rather be anywhere but work.

A few points to humor I have discovered over the past few months:

1. Self-deprecating humor makes you approachable. I love to tell the team how I’m just like the non-techy manager of the help desk in the IT Crowd, the one who believes her team when they tell her the Internet is contained in a tiny box on the top of Big Ben (due to the great reception, of course).

2. Don’t spam your team, but do send a funny joke or picture. But please make sure it’s professional and hopefully somewhat relevant to they work they are doing. I did a search on computer cartoons to see what things I could pass on to the team in the future.

3.  Rein in the humor when it starts to waste people’s times. I have been on a few calls where the team had such great camaraderie that they quit talking about the project and joked around. For those participating, it was great; but for those who didn’t find it funny, they probably felt their time wasn’t being respected.

On the days I laugh, I walk around the office with a lighter spirit, I connect better with people, and I have the right frame of mind to get the job done. I say, pass it on!

Jana Axline is president and leadership coach at Axline Solutions and author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Axline Solutions.

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