I have inadvertently been using humor as a tool for my entire career. It is only within the last few years through feedback and reviews by peers that I have come to understand the value of this inadvertent tool.
Humor has helped me to build relationships with my colleagues and team members, to reduce tension in difficult situations, to project an image of approachability, and to increase motivation.
Humor is not a tool for all situations and it is important to find the right balance for the professional context. Every joke isn’t a hit and because of this, I have found that I often have a second chance to made a joke about how bad I make jokes.
As a tool, in my experience, humor should only be used occasionally, maybe once or twice in a meeting. It is too easy to fall into making too many jokes and disrupting productivity.
It is important to keep aware of the context of your audience. Always shoot more conservative than you expect them to be. For me, politically charged jokes are never appropriate because you never know someone’s personal political views.
Keep in mind the hierarchy of your audience as you do not want to be seen as unprofessionally punching above your weight or become too comfortable with others who you may need to take a strong professional stance with late.
If people feel too close, they may feel betrayed when frank professional conversations are necessary.
Gifs and Memes are always a hit with the technical crowd. Sarcasm in moderation is always healthy as long as you are sure your audience will know its sarcasm.
Humor is a tool I have inadvertently relied upon and now that I recognize its utility, I intend to rely on it as a strategic asset for the rest of my career.
~ Benjamin Reinhardt – Chief Process Officer