There’s a saying (whose author, unfortunately, is unknown): “Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.” Not only survival, I’d argue – every “success kit” should necessarily include it as well.
There’s a reason why motivational speakers start with a joke or a humorous anecdote — it captures the audience’s attention, lightens the mood, sets positive expectations and motivates everyone to be more productive. In a study from the Journal of Applied Psychology, just one use of humor among work teams resulted in improved performance not just immediately, but up to two years later. Levity also improves recall. It is often the shortest pipeline to the memory banks.
How much bantering you should try depends on your corporate culture. But even in the stuffiest boardroom, there is an appreciation of well-timed lightheartedness. An upbeat atmosphere encourages innovation and smart risks, which lead to greater productivity.
It may take awhile to develop a comfortable way to use levity in your job, but it’s a worthy pursuit. The goal isn’t to be voted funniest employee, or force yourself to be someone you’re not. By being aware of the benefits of adding some wittiness to your “brand,” you’ll likely accelerate your success at your job and in your career.
Check out some tips on applying “intelligent humor” to your job in my Psychology Today blog.