If you think you're naturally funny, you probably already add humor to your own workday. But even if you're less convinced of your comedic talents, you can rely on others. Here are some tips to help you find more humor at work. They're especially useful after performance reviews.
- Read procedure manuals
- Are these guys kidding? If we actually tried to run the company this way, we'd be out of business before you could say, "Use the process, Luke."
- Keep an audio recording player handy or listen on the Web
- Get a player and a pair of headphones, and bring some humorous recordings to work. Take a humor break now and then with Tom Lehrer, Elayne Boosler, or Garrison Keillor. They'll help you keep corporate policy — and workplace politics — in perspective.
- Read humor on the Web
- Almost everything on the Web is funny, if you tilt it just right. But some sites actually try to be funny. Examples: News of the Weird, HumorLinks and the US House of Representatives. Uh, maybe not the House of Representatives. If you can't do this at work, print pages at home and read them whenever you need to.
- Keep a book ready
- The human adult
needs 12 good
laughs a day
- Get a book of humor — short jokes, funny stories, or inane observations — and pick it up now and then for a few laughs. Twelve good laughs is a minimum daily adult requirement.
- Capture gems from the air
- Almost daily, someone in your life says something truly hilarious — sometimes intentionally. Intentional or not, write it down, with enough context so you'll understand it months from now. Once a year, read your collection from beginning to end, when no one is looking.
- Post humor on the wall outside your door
- As people pass, they'll stop to read your postings and laugh. With some exceptions, their laughter is much better than normal hallway noise.
- Subscribe to an email humor list
- There are lots of these, both formal and informal. Sometimes the informal ones — the networks of friends of friends — are the funniest. It's funny what some people find funny.
- Get a cartoon-a-day desk calendar
- Every morning make a little ritual of tearing off yesterday's cartoon and reading today's. Save the really good ones. Post the bad ones outside someone else's door.
- Throw away your boring coffee mug
- Get one that's really ridiculous, with a cartoon character sculpted on it — maybe Wiley Coyote or Bullwinkle J. Moose. Take it with you to the really important teleconferences.
These tips can help you most when you're least likely to remember them. Even if you do remember, reaching for a laugh when you're feeling angry or low can be difficult. But if you can remember, and if you can muster the will, the payoff from laughter is the best there is — happiness. Top Next Issue
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Here are some amusing Web sites, including a few from the February 11, 2001 issue of The Wall Street Journal. Some of these play sound, so prepare accordingly:
- Villa de Loon A funny blog. Tiber lost his job and moved back in with his rich, eccentric family, only to find that the "eccentric" part remains but the "rich" may be going.
- The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
- The Worst Metaphors Ever Written By High School Students Really.
- The Colbert Report
- Saturday Night Live
- Resumania Excerpts from real-life resumes. Visit their Hall of Fame.
- The Onion, a satire of the news. 18 and over.
- The Dead People Server A database of interesting celebrities who are long dead or newly dead. They even have an RSS feed (for those who are waiting for someone specific to die, I guess).
- DMOZ.org directory of humor sites. Humor of all kinds from Advice to Wordplay.
- GirlComic.net A collection of pieces from female funny people.
- Yahoo's links to political humor sites
- Pocho.com Satire, news y chat for the Spanglish generation.
- The Obscure Store and reading room
- Harry Shearer Humor from the host and creator of Le Show and the voice of Principal Skinner.
- BitOfFun.com Humor at work, and other places.
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More articles on Emotions at Work:
- Irrational Self-Interest
- When we try to influence others, especially large groups or entire companies, we sometimes create packages
of incentives and disincentives that are intended to affect behavior. These strategies usually assume
that people make choices on rational grounds. Is this assumption valid?
- Fill in the Blanks
- When we conceal information about ourselves and our areas of responsibility, we make room for others
to speculate. Speculation is rarely helpful. It's wise to fill in the blanks.
- What Enough to Do Is Like
- Most of us have had way too much to do for so long that "too much to do" has become the new
normal. We've forgotten what "enough to do" feels like. Here are some reminders.
- Coercion by Presupposition
- Coercion, physical or psychological, has no place in the workplace. Yet we see it and experience it
frequently. We can end the use of presupposition as a tool of coercion, but only if we take personal
responsibility for ending it.
- Preventing Toxic Conflict: I
- Conflict resolution skills are certainly useful. Even more advantageous are toxic conflict prevention
skills, and skills that keep constructive conflict from turning toxic.
See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 11: The Rhyme-as-Reason Effect
- When we speak or write, the phrases we use have both form and meaning. Although we usually think of form and meaning as distinct, we tend to assess as more meaningful and valid those phrases that are more beautifully formed. The rhyme-as-reason effect causes us to confuse the validity of a phrase with its aesthetics. Available here and by RSS on December 11.
- And on December 18: The Trap of Beautiful Language
- As we assess the validity of others' statements, we risk making a characteristically human error — we confuse the beauty of their language with the reliability of its meaning. We're easily thrown off by alliteration, anaphora, epistrophe, and chiasmus. Available here and by RSS on December 18.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
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