Sunday, June 12, 2011
Business and Humor
A junior manager, senior manager and their boss were on their way to a lunch meeting. They hopped in a cab and found a lamp. The boss rubbed it, and a genie appeared. "I'll grant you one wish each," the genie said.
Grabbing the lamp from his boss, the eager junior manager shouted, "I want to be on a fast boat in the Bahamas with no worries." And poof, he was gone.
The senior manager couldn't keep quiet either. He shouted, "I want to be in Miami, with beautiful girls, food and cocktails." And poof, he was gone.
Finally, it was the boss's turn. "I want those idiots back in the office after lunch."
I haven't yet found Genie's lamp, but I do have a Magic 8 ball on my desk. Sometimes when asked to approve a project, I'll shake the ball and await its prediction: "Good idea," "Yes," or "Better luck next time."
Humor breaks through tension in the workplace and replaces it with a mood that is more conducive to success. Once the tension has broken, it's easier to relax and make sound decisions. The Magic 8 ball is kind of like neutral humor, laughing at fate rather than ourselves. Neutral humor may not have a punchline, but it does allow us to take our jobs a little less seriously.
Invoking humor is a risk, but it's a positive risk. Telling your coworkers a joke at an opportune time may not always get laughs, but a smile or chuckle is a welcome friend during the workday. Witnessing humorous gestures in the workplace inspires people to take more risks, maybe not with jokes, but with projects. A promotion, for example, may prove to more successful than originally evaluated from standard solemnity. While most, understandably, want to remain professional, dignified, and rather ceremonious at work, an upbeat, cheerful viewpoint can orient an entire staff and customer base toward new heights.
Of course, not everyone works in a serene office place. There are those whose professions are very serious and not-so-funny. In law enforcement, where the motto goes from "The customer's always right," to "Follow-the-rules-or-I'll-rip-your-tonsils-out," kinda attitude, humor is essential if you want to maintain a sense of balance, if not sanity. A few pieces of chalk with a sign that reads, "Use in case of emergency," might produce a smile. Buttons for officers' children, "My daddy can arrest your daddy," is sure to make a cop's child a hit on the playground. And I suppose a booking officer could have a bowl of candy on his desk with a little sign that states, "If you're guilty, go ahead and take a piece. It might be your last."