Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 2, Issue 20;   May 15, 2002:

I Think, Therefore I Laugh

by

Humor is fun — that's why they call it "funny." If you add humor to your own work environment, you'll reduce your level of stress, increase your creativity, and drive your enemies nuts.

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
Moose mugAre 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. Go to top Top  Next issue: Food for Thought  Next Issue

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Pick one up from AmazonWant more portable humor? Load up your MP3 player with Stephen Colbert, Tom Lehrer, Elayne Boosler, or Garrison Keillor. Pick up a new MP3 player from Amazon.com.

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:

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Related articles

More articles on Emotions at Work:

Hard at WorkThe Tweaking CC
When did you last receive an email message with a "tweaking CC"? Probably yesterday. A tweaking CC is usually a CC to your boss or possibly the entire known universe, designed to create pressure by exposing embarrassing information.
A Canada Goose nestingBig Egos and Other Misconceptions
We often describe someone who arrogantly breezes through life with swagger and evident disregard for others as having a "big ego." Maybe so. And maybe not. Let's have a closer look.
An artist's conception of a planetary accretion diskWhy Scope Expands: II
The scope of an effort underway tends to expand over time. Why do scopes not contract just as often? One cause might be cognitive biases that make us more receptive to expansion than contraction.
A large audience listening to a speakerGetting Value from Involuntary Seminars
Whatever your organizational role, from time to time you might find yourself attending seminars or presentations involuntarily. The value you derive from these "opportunities" depends as much on you as on the presenter.
An informal meeting geometryMake Suggestions Privately
Suggesting a better way of doing things can sometimes backfire surprisingly and intensely. Making suggestions privately reduces that risk, but introduces a different risk.

See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Adolf Hitler greets Neville Chamberlain at the beginning of the Bad Godesberg meeting on 24 September 1938Coming October 20: On Ineffectual Leaders
When the leader of an important business unit is ineffectual, we need to make a change to protect the organization. Because termination can seem daunting, people often turn to one or more of a variety of other options. Those options have risks. Available here and by RSS on October 20.
Browsing books in a library. So many books, we must make choicesAnd on October 27: Five Guidelines for Choices
Each day we make dozens or hundreds of choices — maybe more. We make many of those choices outside our awareness. But we can make better choices if we can recognize choice patterns that often lead to trouble. Here are five guidelines for making choices. Available here and by RSS on October 27.

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Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople 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.

Bullet Points: Mastery or Madness?

DecisBullet Point Madnession makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. Read more about this program.

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