Building Teams and Relationships with Humor

Note: This is part 2 of a 5 part series detailing why it’s important to have humor in the workplace.  This post discusses humor’s ability to improve relationships with your direct reports, peers, and managers, aid team and trust building, and improve your overall satisfaction at work.

It’s well understood by psychologists that when people share emotions – whether positive or negative – they become closer.  You’ve probably noticed this correlation if you’ve ever gone through an incredibly exciting event (such as winning the Little League World Series), or an incredibly scary one (such as surviving an Earthquake).  In both cases, after the event has passed, those people who shared emotions during the ordeal are inevitably closer.

While I hope most of you out in the corporate world don’t consider their work here traumatic, I do imagine not too many people consider it an absolute pleasure.  Let’s face it, there are times when everything is great, and times when when you consider seeking employment elsewhere.  By introducing humor into the workplace, you can create positive shared emotions among a team that would otherwise only be limited to the emotions created by the work experience.  Besides, we already do a great job of adding more stress to other people’s lives, why not do our part to also add more enjoyment?

In addition to bringing groups of people together, humor is great for improving one-on-one relationships.  Consistent use of humor makes other people want to listen to you.  Think about who you’d rather go to lunch with–the guy in accounting who only talks about how stressed he is or the girl in sales who always has an entertaining story to share (note: I’m not stereotyping different functions, I’m sure there are very entertaining accountants out there… somewhere).

The point is that we want to be around people who make us smile, laugh, and overall raise our spirits.  And to those of you wondering why you even need “friends” at work (as opposed to “co-workers”), consider that studies show that employees who have three close friends at work are 96% more likely to be “extremely satisfied” with their lives.

But what about those people who aren’t necessarily on your team, or that you don’t go to lunch with?  Well, one of the greatest benefits of humor is that it can build trust and acceptance among diverse groups of people–a crucial skill to have, especially if you work in a global company.  Laughter is a universal form of  communication–people from around the globe may speak different languages, but they all laugh.

So in your next team meeting, or the next time you’re meeting someone for the first time, or when you just want to improve your relationship with a peer, don’t be afraid to share some humor.  To get you started on some funny things to share, check out a collection of funny videos from around the webFARK.com, or even a comedian’s blog.  But don’t forget, some of the best humor can be found in your own life- through personal stories and shared observations.

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