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Humor in the workplace, Sources of Resistance

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 @ 11:00 AM

motivational speaker about fun at workMost organizations and their leaders claim they want their workplaces to be fun.

Here are some of the sources of resistance to encouraging humor in the workplace:

  • Fear of humiliation.

Many professionals wonder,"What will others think? Will they consider me goofy? Detached?" Serious, well educated professionals have reservations about taking themselves lightly- as it may impact their professional image.

Most of the time when I see a serious professional do something funny, take themselves lightly or tell a joke-I respect them more, not less. If someone can stay lighthearted in stress, it shows me that they are still in control.

  • Fear It will Impact Productivity.


Studies prove that organizations that play together are more productive. The principle of flow, an experience where time flies by happens when you are completely absorbed in the job. This is the same experience as when time quickly flies by when emersed in having fun. Even mundane tasks can be fun if you engage the perspective of play.

High strung, serious professionals need levity as a tool to balance their perspective and keep emotions in check.

  • Fear of not being taken seriously.
We have all had someone tell us something in an off sided humorous way and wonder if they are being serious. People who are constantly kidding around lose credibility. The key is to establish your competency first and balance your use of humor and fun at work.
  • Fear of offending others.

As a motivational keynote speaker I often ask audiences if they can recall offending others with their humor in the workplace. Very few people can think of a single occasion. Humor is always a risk. If you do offend someone apologize, recognize the consequences and be more cautious next time.

  • Fear we are just not funny.

Some people tell jokes and everyone groans. As a motivational speaker about humor in the workplace, I always suggest audiences don't worry about being funny just have fun. If having fun is difficult ( and requires memorizing dumb jokes); you are doing something wrong. Taking yourself lightly and making it your goal to have more fun while you work will produce far better results.

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