MasterMinds: Comedy and the Corporate Culture


**Editor’s Note: MasterMinds is a biweekly feature in which we invite leading master agents to share information, insights and expert opinions about what’s going on in their agencies, the IT/telecom channel or the business community in general.**

Laughter may be more than just the best medicine, According to a recent survey from Accountemps, it may also be one of the keys to success at work. Seventy-eight percent of CFOs interviewed said an employee’s sense of humor is important for fitting into the corporate culture, with 22 percent saying it is very important.

The survey, developed by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm, included responses from more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

“A sense of humor can boost moods and improve connections among colleagues,” said Mike Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps. “Creating a positive and friendly work environment can lead to higher levels of employee engagement and productivity.”

“Not all business matters are funny, but a little levity can go a long way, particularly when it comes to defusing tension or recovering from a minor mishap,” he added. “There’s nothing like a joke to put people at ease.”

Accountemps offers five rules for using humor in the workplace:

  1. Show your personality. When used appropriately, humor can help build rapport with colleagues. Interviewing for a new job? Consider weaving in some wit to build chemistry with the hiring manager and show that you are approachable — a trait of a good leader. As an added bonus, it can help alleviate nervous jitters.
  2. Consider the circumstances. Comedians know timing is everything. While a chuckle or two can help diffuse stressful situations, cracking one-liners during a serious meeting is an unwelcome distraction.
  3. Use the right medium. Be cautious when using humor in an email or instant message — it might fall flat or be misinterpreted because the recipient cannot see your facial expressions or hear the tone of your voice.
  4. Laugh with them — not at them. Never use humor at the expense of others, and be mindful about sarcastic or demeaning comments that can be off-putting or offensive. Poking fun at yourself is safer; it shows that you are self-aware and don’t take yourself too seriously.
  5. Keep it G-rated. Steer clear of inappropriate or negative remarks that could make someone feel uncomfortable. If you’re unsure of how your joke may be received, keep it to yourself.

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