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Humor In The Workplace Is A Joke October 30, 2008

Posted by Kevin Burns in Uncategorized.

On the airplane flight I took today, our lead flight attendant was quite a jokester. Of course, once the plane hit a lot of turbulence, the jokes stopped. And I was left to ponder this thought: if the airplane got into some trouble, who would I want at the controls – the funny steward or the unflappable pilot?

As a professional speaker who likes to make people laugh while they are learning something valuable, I am on occassion mistaken as someone who delivers keynote presentations on humour in the workplace. I don't. In fact, I don't see the value of sitting around and trying to be funny for the sake of trying to improve morale. Sorry, I just don't get it. I think laughter needs to be heartfelt – not put on. (Think about how uncomfortable it is to be around someone trying too hard to be funny.) Some people are funny and some are not. It's almost painful to watch someone with no sense of humour trying to be funny. Hey, I don't try to be tall.

So this week I stumbled onto the results of the T-Mobile Workplace Motivation Report. Fifteen percent of those surveyed actually believe that joke-cracking has a demotivating influence. Workers don't feel motivated by colleagues who spend their time joking around and making flippant comments meant to be funny.

The research showed that workers prefer to be surrounded by upbeat people with a "can-do" attitude. Also a calming influence are people who can remain calm in the face of adversity – those who are unflappable and have a "Trust The Process" attitude.

I know a few speakers who conduct "humour in the workplace" sessions. I've never really understood how humour helps improve engagement, leadership or service. It's the same, to me, as wasting a lot of money on personality profiling – are you an introvert, extrovert or even what "color" you're supposed to be. How does that help you get more done, serve customers better or improve your performance results?

When times of economic uncertainty hit us, I want to be hanging out with the calm and "everything-is-going-to-be-alright" attitude guy. I don't want to have to turn to the jokester whose own humour during crisis times turns to blank-stared, crazy-nervous laughter.

Attitude Adjustment: I still think it's a good idea to have a sense of humour in the workplace – just don't annoy your co-workers with your giggles. As a boss, think about how you could better spend your training budgets by helping to actually improve your employees which will improve the workplace. Clown noses at work are just dumb. How is that going to improve the attitudes and performance of your people during times of economic downturns? Help make more of your people unflappable instead of funny. Bring a sense of calm to your workplace first and your people will have more fun as a result.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device



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