A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.–Dwight D. Eisenhower

Humor, like any behavior, requires skills and timing.  When properly used it can motivate and influence others, as well as reduce stress and tension among individuals and teams.

Humor has also been linked with our emotional intelligence competencies. Daniel Goleman,(EQ author/expert), shares “Research on humor at work reveals that a well-timed joke or playful laughter can stimulate creativity, open lines of communication, enhance a sense of connection and trust, and, of course make work more fun”.

When NOT properly used:

  • Humor may be disruptive and ill received
  • Humor may be misinterpreted and cause ill feelings

It’s important to know your audience.  You’ll want to avoid humor that is sexist, ethnic, politically or religiously based (or any type of humor used at another’s expense). It’s also best not to use humor when delivering important messages or when addressing issues or problems.

Bryan Lattimore, author The Art of Humor, states that humor can be used:

  • As a way to break the ice in stiff or uncomfortable business situations
  • As an effective bonding technique – a wonderful way to build common ground with other employees
  • As a way to break down resistance
  • As a much needed way to improve the content, enjoyment, and ultimately the productivity of meetings
  • As a way to assign work when people can’t take any more
  • As a wonderful way to ease and control tension

For some using humor is a natural talent, for others it’s awkward. Observe others in your organization that are deemed funny.

What can you learn from them?  Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and give humor a try!


Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.–Victor Borge