Using Humor in the Workplace

Most people appreciate a good sense of humor, but in the workplace it is especially important that you use humor appropriately so as not to offend or isolate anyone. We have listed some basic rules regarding using humor in the office below:

  1. Use humor to make people feel comfortable, not awkward.

–        Using humor can be an easy way to connect with someone and break the ice, but when used incorrectly, humor is also an easy way to make someone feel uncomfortable.

  1. Avoid being sarcastic.

–        Sarcasm can easily be misconstrued or misunderstood, so it’s best to avoid using sarcasm in the workplace.

  1. Don’t tell jokes related to sex, gender, race, ethnicity, or other discriminatory cues.

–        Even the most well meaning joke could seriously offend a coworker, and it could even result in you losing your job.

  1. Don’t laugh AT people, laugh WITH them.

–        Don’t use humor to isolate people, use it to make them feel included.

  1. Avoid practical jokes and other gags.

–        Practical jokes could easily anger or upset a colleague or supervisor.

  1. Don’t try too hard to be funny.

–        Don’t force humor into a humorless situation. Humor in the workplace should always be natural, not forced.

As a final rule, if you aren’t sure whether or not it would be appropriate to use humor in any given situation, you should definitely avoid it. Using humor in the workplace is definitely a sensitive activity, so use it wisely!

WAI Staff

Whitman Associates is a professional staffing agency serving businesses and job seekers in the Washington, D.C. area. Since 1972, we’ve been dedicated to matching highly qualified candidates with a wide variety of temporary, temp-to-hire and permanent positions. We prioritize the needs of both our clients and candidates to ensure successful, lasting relationships.