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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Want 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:
- 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?
- The Loopy Things We Do at Work
- At the end of the day, your skill at finding humor inside the dull and ordinary can make the difference
between going home exhausted and going home in a strait jacket. Adopting a twisted view of the goings-on
might just help keep you untwisted.
- Peek-a-Boo and Leadership
- Great leaders know what to say, what not to say, and when to say or not say it, sometimes with stunning
effect. Consistently effective leadership requires superior empathy skills. Here are some things to
do to improve your empathy skills.
- How to Avoid a Layoff: Your Relationships
- In troubled economic times, layoffs loom almost everywhere. Here are some tips for reconfiguring your
relationships with others at work and at home to reduce the chances that you will be laid off.
- Regaining Respect from Others
- When you feel that a colleague has lost professional respect for you — or never really had respect
for you — what can you do about it? Check your conclusions, check whether it's about you, and
ask for a dialog.
See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
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- Very little is more frustrating than having someone else claim credit for the work you do. Worse, sometimes they blame you if they get into trouble after misusing your results. Here are three tips for dealing with credit appropriation. Available here and by RSS on August 22.
- And on August 29: Please Reassure Them
- When things go wildly wrong, someone is usually designated to investigate and assess the probability of further trouble. That role can be risky. Here are three guidelines for protecting yourself if that role falls to you. Available here and by RSS on August 29.
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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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