EPISODE 8, BE A JOKER, NOT A JERK - using your brilliant sense of humour to build your success


“Have you heard the one about...” every workplace has its quick-witted member. Someone who makes everyone chuckle about an obnoxious client, a boring rule, or teasing a bossy colleague.

Jokers lighten the mood and even diffuse awkward work moments. They also help us de-stress.

Almost three out of four people say that most of the jokes at work come as “isms—sexism, ageism, racism, weight-isms, mental health-isms, etc.

Favourite targets for jokers at work include accents, personal hygiene, physical appearance, nationality, poor attendance, asking the wrong questions and becoming too close to the boss.

That’s the trouble with being a joker at work. While you only intend to make people smile, your brilliant humour can still crash-land, causing you harm, even damaging your search for success.

For instance, someone I knew at work received complaints about his use of giving people unwanted nicknames. His boss told him to stop using these nasty and unwelcome labels.

He replied that people were just too sensitive. You see, that’s the trouble with trying to be a comedian at work. You can end up blaming the audience.

There’s a fine line between being amusing and sarcasm. Even when you know the difference, your office audience may not.

People will start viewing you as damaging morale and productivity when you keep pushing to “make ‘em laugh”. While colleagues seem to enjoy your wit, they may secretly be wishing you’d stop trying so hard to be funny.

How can you avoid doing the opposite of raising a smile at work?

The essential step is to choose your target carefully. Consider those on the receiving end. Will they feel comfortable with your subject matter? Or could it be a source of hurt?

Most importantly, do people feel safe around you? You may not care about that, but they certainly do!

Still, laughter at work is healthy. It brings positive mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. It even boosts the immune system and strengthens the body’s defences.

Did you know that a good laugh for twenty seconds is like three minutes on a rowing machine or two on a stationary bike?

A nice lengthy cackle …

even lowers blood pressure.

Having a good sense of humour at work is a definite asset. Most people will appreciate it if your mood can help keep things in perspective. When they know that you are laugh-friendly, they may look forward to your attendance at meetings to help lighten the load.

Your sense of humour can be a real asset in helping you stand out from the crowd. Not because you keep telling jokes—that way is a dead end. What builds success is your ability to see the humour in even the most tiresome situations and use it to help relieve the pressures these can create.

One aspect of this precious asset is that you learn how to become skilled at choosing the right moments when to unleash your humour. It matters as much as what and how you say it when you say it.

If humour is your thing, here are five valuable tips

  • Play it safe with universal topics that everyone can enjoy

  • No matter how tempting the target, don’t make fun of others at work

  • Do make fun of yourself

  • Avoid humour in e-mails; it seldom works well

  • Making everything into a joke may prevent people from taking you seriously


  • Assess whether your ever-so funny joke might have serious side effects?

  • Avoid tricky subjects like death, physical disability, racial or sexual inequalities

  • If in doubt, leave it out: pause until sure how your sense of humour will land


Humour at work is good and even healthy; make sure that yours comes at the right time without disrespecting or damaging others.

Today’s episode is from the theme: COMMUNICATING FOR SUCCESS.

Next Monday I’ll be talking about Non-Verbal—watch peoples’ body language for essential insights.