Laughing Your Way to a Promotion

Written By Andrew Slade

Pleasant humor is a key to success at work, but it’s likely that very few jokes are actually being cracked. It turns out that people are so afraid of bombing jokes and not being taken seriously that they rarely try to use humor in the workplace. And I’ll admit, knowing when to deliver jokes can sometimes be tricky and require a great deal of confidence. We all know the poor soul that once delivered a joke so poorly that they seemed to muster up more winces than they did polite smiles.

And there are other reasons why people decide not to embrace banter other than just a fear of not being funny. Many don’t want to risk accidentally offending someone or fear that their humor might contradict the culture of the company.

However, a survey issued by Robert Half International found that 91% of executives believe that a sense of humor is important for career advancement, while 84% feel that people with a good sense of humor generally do a better job. Another study by Bell Leadership Institute found that the two most desired traits among senior leaders were a strong work ethic and good sense of humor.

I guess the real joke here is that when people decide to tone down their well-placed humor with the intention of being taken more seriously, people actually take them less seriously.

So why is humor a key to success? To begin, people will enjoy working with you more. Wouldn’t you want to work with someone with a great sense of humor? It’s our natural stress reliever, providing us with a cognitive shift on how we view our current situation. It puts us at ease and helps us relax, clear our minds, and become more productive.

Moreover, humor has been shown to generate creativity and boost morale. It can make individuals more approachable for both coworkers and clients, which often times increases trust, elevates team support, and improves client loyalty. You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian, but embracing a tasteful sense of humor might be your ticket to your next career opportunity.