Recently I read a great article about jokes in the workplace, and the comments section was an excellent example of how humor is perceived by different personality styles. A huge debate that was going on showed how not everyone is interested in office jokes. The reason for that lies in the personality styles.
One of the comments that struck me was: “I use humor to drive creativity and productivity”. Humor can be a great tool for that to a certain extent. However, not every personality style is motivated by the same things. High I personality style will love the fun and will find it motivating, while a high C will be more interested in getting the tasks done without interruptions. That’s why it is very important to know who you are working with and what personality style are they to drive their creativity correctly and most efficiently.
Another comment mentioned that having fun is great, but you have to walk the line of professionalism at work. This is something I agree with.
Having an atmosphere of all play and no work (and vice versa) can’t function in any workplace. Engaging in fun activities and having time to joke and laugh is great, but your colleagues who are task-oriented will have to know what is going to be happening on a daily basis. This means that they need to know that they will not be surprised or interrupted by a fun activity every day when they come to work, as they are there to work. If they feel as they can not concentrate on work itself daily, you might lose a great worker due to the atmosphere that’s not compatible with their personality style.
More importantly, you need to be aware of the “cancel culture”. This is a quite common thing today; an atmosphere where people who disagree with the rest of the group or don’t share opinions with them get cancelled out and showed to the side. And it is not easy to know what topics can be offensive to someone in your workplace. To avoid finding yourself in an uncomfortable situation, try to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your joke appropriate?
- Will your joke offend anyone?
- Will your joke cast a negative light on a certain group of people or type of a person?
- Is your joke at someone else’s expense?
- Can you tell a joke you intend to tell based upon where you are? Is your workplace culture laid-back or more professional?
What you never want to do is to offend someone. That’s why a joke that is at someone else’s expense is never appropriate. The only situation in which you could tell that kind of joke is if the person permitted you or there is a roast going on. They need to know that the joke is being made and be willing to play along and laugh at it.
The safest humor in a professional atmosphere will always be self-deprecating humor. However, you need to talk about yourself, not about the whole group of people that you belong to.
Avoiding conflict that can be created just because of one joke as you can see is not easy. You have to know your audience, figure out the right place and time to tell a joke and be sure that the organizational culture is not clashing with what you are trying to interject from a personal standpoint.
If you are gifted at humor, especially self-deprecating one, go ahead and use it! Humor can be a great tool to reach any audience and get your message through. That also means that if jokes and funny stories don’t come easy to you, you can always practice it. Just like anything else, this can be learned too! If you need help with that, feel free to schedule a call with me, as I have been using humor in every speech I have done in the past 20 years of experience. To know how I use it to get my message across, visit my YouTube channel: learn about ways to avoid uncomfortable situations at work and have a laugh!