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You Can't be Serious

You can’t be serious all the time, so make time for humour in your workplace (that’s humor without a “u” for my American friends.
You can’t be serious all the time, so make time for humour in your workplace (that’s humor without a “u” for my American friends.) The benefits are endless: reduce stress; increase creativity; foster team cohesion; and generally encourage people to want to come to work. Here are a few suggestions categorized by every day office tasks:

Add Humour to Meetings – Why? To get people acquainted with one another; to get people comfortable in both sharing and establishing open communication; and to build trust between employees and managers. Try these tips:

1) Have a humorous theme. How about a ‘Mission: Impossible’ theme, while you deliver the agenda with a comical sense of urgency.
2) Try a fun activity of pictionary or business charades before you begin to loosen everyone up and get them in a droll mood.
3) How about setting aside a minute or two on the agenda for a “whine and cheese” session where everyone can vent in a dramatic or exaggerated manner.
4) Remove the chairs for a quicker flowing meeting with a different perspective.
5) Ask an attendee to be the “Quiz Master” and generate a list of review questions at the end of the session which include some funny quiz items as well as actual agenda topics.

Sometimes the only way to make meetings more bearable is to not have them at all. (Ha ha!) Although, realistically this isn't always possible.

Recognition – Humorous or not, acknowledgement is an integral part of employee moral and retention. Adding some fun to the recognition ceremony helps keep it alive at times when there might not even be any achievement to really recognize, but you want to keep moral up.
1) Keep a bloopers log and incorporate a reward for blunders that encourage people to take risks.
2) Create some goofy awards that get passed around when the time is right. We use a “Wake Up and Smell The Coffee” award at my office, which is a home made sachet of coffee beans that gets hung in your office when you make a silly error and need to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’. How about a “door knob” award to hang on your door knob when you deserve the title? (Poking fun at yourself is a clever way to admit your errors or oversights, and avoid the stress of holding it in or trying to cover something up.)
3) When presenting awards, try imitating the Emmy or Oscar emcees.

Communicating Difficult Material – Humour can play a big part in communicating a difficult subject in a way that helps keep the subject matter serious enough, while keeping the conversation surrounding it less offensive and light-hearted.
1) Next time you have to complain, criticize, reprimand or vent, try adding some silly movement like standing on one leg, twirling around while announcing your news or making a funny face.
2) Why not staple a piece of Kleenex to bad news memos or correspondence?

Dry or Boring Material – Need to add some spice to rather dry material?
1) Host your meeting outside the “bored-room” for a change.
2) Need some more appreciation for your hierarchy? Put baby photos on the organizational chart.

People rush home to watch their favourite comedy sitcoms on a daily basis, but when you think about it, we are only one thought away from starring in our own sitcom. You can’t be serious all the time, so make time for humour in your routines at the office. After all, laughter, camaraderie and good times are the glue that holds teams together.

Realistically not all situations call for humour, and you need to know when humour is appropriate and when it's not. It's helpful to be able to read people to know who may be offended by certain comments and tactics, and then act accordingly. When it comes to jokes, they should not poke fun at race or religion. Keep an eye open for opportunities to add humour into your workplace. Remember, you can’t be serious all the time.

Wishing you a fun filled summer,


posted: 7/24/2007


About the Author: Penny Tremblay

Serving Northern Ontario, professional development, training, coaching and keynote speaking engagements.
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