With so much pressure to do more in less time, it’s easy to get frustrated at work. But humor, when used properly, can be a great tool to help you relieve tension.
“Laughter helps you relax. It’s a true stress-management technique,” says Paul McGhee, Ph.D., president of the Laughter Remedy, a Montclair, New Jersey-based company that provides seminars on humor in the workplace. McGhee, who consults with corporations on the benefits of humor, has found that people who have been exposed to humor-such as a playful activity-score higher on tests for creativity.
A sense of humor can also help you manage conflict and communicate more effectively. And if you’re concerned about not being taken seriously, don’t worry. “As long as you’ve established your competence, the use of humor shouldn’t be viewed as a problem,” McGhee says.
Just make sure your choice of humor-and your use of it-is appropriate. For example, resist making cracks about a co-worker who has been downsized or one who has received a bad performance review. Ditto for making sarcastic remarks to your boss.
Remember, humor isn’t just about cracking jokes. It’s also a way to put everyday happenings in perspective. McGhee gives these tips to help you build your sense of humor:
- Immerse yourself in humor. Devote time to listening to your favorite comedians or hang out with people who have a great sense of humor.
- Do something you consider fun every day. When you’re having fun, your own sense of humor will naturally express itself.
- Play with language. Look for the comical ambiguity and double meanings in language.
- Learn to laugh at yourself. No one is perfect. If you make a mistake, find a way to poke fun at yourself and move on.