Have you heard the joke about the humourless office worker who went for a promotion? He didn’t get the idea.
In workplaces around the globe a bit of humour can go a long way towards creating the idea a more enjoyable place to spend eight or so hours a day.
however for every genuinely funny employee or boss, there are others whose unfunny or inappropriate jokes make colleagues wince.
So treading carefully, how exactly does humour help both improve a workplace in addition to the standing of the person who is usually not bad at the idea?
When Steve Carlisle, president of General Motors of Canada, walks around the firm’s Ontario headquarters he shares jokes, in addition to uses humour to bond with his staff.
“I believe having a sense of humour is usually part of the leadership package,” Mr Carlisle says. “the idea can help people feel more relaxed, more comfortable therefore be more effective at what they do.”
What Mr Carlisle brings to his role at the vehicle giant is usually exactly what a business professor called Maurice Schweitzer cautiously recommends.
Prof Schweitzer recently co-authored a study entitled Risky Business: When Humour Increases in addition to Decreases Status.
the idea found which a worker or boss who successfully use humour is usually seen as both confident in addition to competent, which in turn increases his or her status.
“from the workplace context, people look up to those who are confident,” says Prof Schweitzer, who works at the University of Philadelphia’s Wharton School.
“Being funny is usually taking a risk, in addition to being risky shows confidence.”
however do workers think which a humorous colleague is usually more competent at his or her job?
Prof Schweitzer says which telling a not bad joke requires both intellect in addition to empathy, which makes colleagues believe which the person carries a greater level of competency across the board.
“Being funny requires us to take into consideration additional people’s points of view, in addition to what they may find funny,” he explains.
“in addition to being funny means you understand effective timing, in addition to how to straddle a fine line between what is usually humorous in addition to what’s offensive.”
Prof Schweitzer adds which if a person tells inappropriate jokes, be they insulting or unfunny, they are still regarded as more confident, however – perhaps unsurprisingly – also incompetent.
The study says: “Telling inappropriate jokes signals low competence, in addition to the combined effect of high confidence in addition to low competence harms status.”
Essentially, you don’t want to be like David Brent, the cringeworthy fictional boss coming from The Office, the TV comedy series which was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Humour creates a flattening of relationships in a hierarchal company,” says Jennifer Moss, co-founder of Toronto’s Plasticity Labs, which conducts research on emotional intelligence in addition to happiness for businesses.
“To create stronger engagement with your staff, the idea helps to be humorous.”
One example Prof Schweitzer cites of a not bad use of humour is usually a tweet sent out back in 2009 by former Twitter chief operating officer Dick Costolo.
Mr Costolo tweeted: “First full day as Twitter COO tomorrow. Step one, undermine CEO, consolidate power.”
As the idea happened, Mr Costolo did actually go on to become Twitter’s chief executive a year later, holding the role for several years before ultimately leaving the company.
Prof Schweitzer says: “Mr Costolo’s not a seasoned veteran when the idea comes to comedy, he’s not a comedian however he endeared himself to the company.”
In fact, having some fun from the office can combat negative side effects of intense jobs.
In a 2006 study published from the Journal of Behavioral in addition to Applied Management, researchers found which for healthcare workers, emotional exhaustion was significantly lower among those who experienced greater levels of fun at work.
Also, research out of Vrije University Amsterdam concluded which teams which share more jokes gave more supportive in addition to constructive statements to each additional, such as “which’s a great idea” or “we could solve which problem by doing X”.
When the idea comes to the type of humour you might want to try out on your workmates, Prof Schweitzer says which self-deprecation “can be effective” because the idea humanises the joke-teller.
Sarcasm can also be effectively used, according to Prof Adam Galinsky of Columbia Business School, however he urges a cautious approach.
He says sarcastic humour works best when trust in addition to playfulness has been established between parties, otherwise a wrongly-placed sarcastic comment can appear flippant or cruel.
“Sarcasm requires a cognitive capacity to understand flexibility of thinking in addition to how words can be interpreted,” says Prof Galinsky. “the idea is usually a particular type of social intelligence which not everyone uses or grasps.”
More stories coming from the BBC’s Business Brain series looking at quirky or unusual business topics coming from around the globe:
Putting the fun back into dance classes
Can you be taught to be more charismatic?
Does selling up mean selling out?
‘I turned my dad’s erotic novel into a hit podcast’
would certainly you carry something abroad for a stranger?
Barbara Plester, senior lecturer at the University of Auckland Business, says the idea is usually simply vital for jokes to not cause offence.
The author of The Complexity of Workplace Humour: Laughter, Jokers in addition to the Dark Side of Humour, also cautions about high-ranking managers bringing comedy to the office.
“While some managers do retain in addition to use their sense of humour, the potential for causing distress is usually even greater when you add a power differential,” she says.
“Therefore, a manager joking having a subordinate risks not only offending the worker if the humour is usually taken poorly, however may come in for additional accusations, such as sexual harassment, if the humour backfires.”
Ms Plester also warns which senior staff sharing jokes “can never be sure if they are actually funny, or if others laugh because the manager has power in addition to so subordinates laugh strategically to please the boss.”
Connecticut resident Tim Washer never shied away coming from being the “funny guy at work”, thanks to growing up appreciating comedians in addition to even trying some stand-up.
today a comedy writer in addition to consultant, Mr Washer says the right wisecrack will ease tension in addition to help bonding.
He says: “If I tell a joke in addition to you laugh, then we’ve shared a moment in addition to we have something in common.”
Follow Business Brain series editor Will Smale on Twitter @WillSmale1