Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 2, Issue 20;   May 15, 2002: I Think, Therefore I Laugh

I Think, Therefore I Laugh

by

Humor is fun — that's why they call it "funny." If you add humor to your own work environment, you'll reduce your level of stress, increase your creativity, and drive your enemies nuts.

If you think you're naturally funny, you probably already add humor to your own workday. But even if you're less convinced of your comedic talents, you can rely on others. Here are some tips to help you find more humor at work. They're especially useful after performance reviews.

Read procedure manuals
Moose mugAre these guys kidding? If we actually tried to run the company this way, we'd be out of business before you could say, "Use the process, Luke."
Keep an audio recording player handy or listen on the Web
Get a player and a pair of headphones, and bring some humorous recordings to work. Take a humor break now and then with Tom Lehrer, Elayne Boosler, or Garrison Keillor. They'll help you keep corporate policy — and workplace politics — in perspective.
Read humor on the Web
Almost everything on the Web is funny, if you tilt it just right. But some sites actually try to be funny. Examples: News of the Weird, HumorLinks and the US House of Representatives. Uh, maybe not the House of Representatives. If you can't do this at work, print pages at home and read them whenever you need to.
Keep a book ready
The human adult
needs 12 good
laughs a day
Get a book of humor — short jokes, funny stories, or inane observations — and pick it up now and then for a few laughs. Twelve good laughs is a minimum daily adult requirement.
Capture gems from the air
Almost daily, someone in your life says something truly hilarious — sometimes intentionally. Intentional or not, write it down, with enough context so you'll understand it months from now. Once a year, read your collection from beginning to end, when no one is looking.
Post humor on the wall outside your door
As people pass, they'll stop to read your postings and laugh. With some exceptions, their laughter is much better than normal hallway noise.
Subscribe to an email humor list
There are lots of these, both formal and informal. Sometimes the informal ones — the networks of friends of friends — are the funniest. It's funny what some people find funny.
Get a cartoon-a-day desk calendar
Every morning make a little ritual of tearing off yesterday's cartoon and reading today's. Save the really good ones. Post the bad ones outside someone else's door.
Throw away your boring coffee mug
Get one that's really ridiculous, with a cartoon character sculpted on it — maybe Wiley Coyote or Bullwinkle J. Moose. Take it with you to the really important teleconferences.

These tips can help you most when you're least likely to remember them. Even if you do remember, reaching for a laugh when you're feeling angry or low can be difficult. But if you can remember, and if you can muster the will, the payoff from laughter is the best there is — happiness. Go to top Top  Next issue: Food for Thought  Next Issue

Pick one up from AmazonWant more portable humor? Load up your MP3 player with Stephen Colbert, Tom Lehrer, Elayne Boosler, or Garrison Keillor. Pick up a new MP3 player from Amazon.com.

Here are some amusing Web sites, including a few from the February 11, 2001 issue of The Wall Street Journal. Some of these play sound, so prepare accordingly:

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Related articles

More articles on Emotions at Work:

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When somebody complains to you about someone else's performance, you're entering into another dimension — a dimension of three minds. That's the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the Triangulation Zone.
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In troubled economic times, layoffs loom almost everywhere. Here are some tips for reconfiguring your relationships with others at work and at home to reduce the chances that you will be laid off.
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Humans have impressive abilities to convince themselves of things that are false. One explanation for this behavior is the theory of cognitive dissonance.
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Toxic conflict in teams disrupts relationships and interferes with (or prevents) accomplishment of the team's goals. It's difficult enough to manage toxic conflict in co-located teams, but in virtual teams, dissociative anonymity causes toxic conflict to be both more easily triggered and more difficult to resolve.
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Scope creep is depressingly familiar. Its anti-partner, spontaneous and stealthy scope contraction, has no accepted name, and is rarely seen. Why?

See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Raquel Welch (left) and Gilda Radner (right) from a @Cite{Saturday Night Live rehearsal, April 24, 1976Coming December 20: Conceptual Mondegreens
When we disagree about abstractions, such as a problem solution, or a competitor's strategy, the cause can often be misunderstanding the abstraction. That misunderstanding can be a conceptual mondegreen. Available here and by RSS on December 20.
An engineer attending a meeting with 14 other engineersAnd on December 27: On Assigning Responsibility for Creating Trouble
When we assign responsibility for troubles that bedevil us, we often make mistakes. We can be misled by language, stereotypes, and the assumptions we make about others. Available here and by RSS on December 27.

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Person-to-Person Communications: Models and Applications
When Person-to-Person Communications: Models and Applicationswe talk, listen, send or read emails, read or write memos, or when we leave or listen to voice mail messages, we're communicating person-to-person. And whenever we communicate person-to-person, we risk being misunderstood, offending others, feeling hurt, and being confused. There are so many ways for things to go wrong that we could never learn how to fix all the problems. A more effective approach avoids problems altogether, or at least minimizes their occurrence. In this very interactive program we'll explain — and show you how to use — a model of inter-personal communications that can help you stay out of the ditch. We'll place particular emphasis on a very tricky situation — expressing your personal power. In those moments of intense involvement, when we're most likely to slip, you'll have a new tool to use to keep things constructive. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

Ten Project Management Fallacies: The Power of Avoiding Hazards
Most Ten Project Management Fallaciesof what we know about managing projects is useful and effective, but some of what we know "just ain't so." Identifying the fallacies of project management reduces risk and enhances your ability to complete projects successfully. Even more important, avoiding these traps can demonstrate the value and power of the project management profession in general, and your personal capabilities in particular. In this program we describe ten of these beliefs. There are almost certainly many more, but these ten are a good start. We'll explore the situations where these fallacies are most likely to expose projects to risk, and suggest techniques for avoiding them. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

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