Yes, You Can Laugh At Work

Laughter has been found to be incredibly beneficial to live longer, be healthier, and reduce stress. Smiling is good too, especially when it’s genuine. In the case of the business environment, we’ll go one step further and say a sense of humor can make all the difference when it comes to handling stress, managing deadlines and being a leader among colleagues.

Work is hard, which of course if why it’s called work. Our feeling though is that if you can’t have fun while working, you’re missing out. Brilliant ideas have come from group conversations which are half serious, half joking. We’ll even go so far as to say that just because you’re laughing and engaging with a colleague, it doesn’t mean you’re not working. What it does mean is that you’re building relationships and finding a common ground to communicate beyond “shop talk.” Workplace relationships are important for several reasons; they lead to collaboration and idea sharing, they help to relieve stress, and they provide a support network during challenging times.


In the work environment, these basic foundations of relationships and engaging with colleagues can’t be serious all the time, or only focused on immediate term work-related initiatives. Similar to friendships outside of w
ork, there’s a balance between the fun and the serious that makes a relationship work. As leaders, we are no different if only because we are human. As humans we can laugh and be serious and be effective at the same time. The most successful leaders are able to relate to those who report to them, and sometimes relating to another person means sharing our sense of humor, or at the very least, a smile.

Some may question whether or not showing this very simple, very human, side of ourselves is wise when in a leadership role. We say yes, and here’s why. If a leader is always and only directing others, that behavior may be interpreted as dictatorial or even tyrannical. In these cases, people will do what they are supposed to do because they have been told to. But, when there is a more human relationship, people will do what they’ve been asked to do because they want to. And if all goes well, they’ll even do things they don’t normally want to do. Showing your sense of humor in balance with a more serious side shows those who report to you that you can relate to them. It doesn’t take away from your ability to make decisions, encourage growth, or run a meeting. If the old adage, “there’s a time and a place” is true, this is an area where it’s most true. A good leader won’t crack a joke in the middle of a conversation about lower than expected quarterly earling, but is could be a good idea to kick off a long budget meeting with a little humor. Knowing the difference in these two situations, as well as when it’s time to roll up your sleeves to find a solution to a problem, is what makes strong leaders.


A leader is someone who demonstrates qualities that others find encouraging, inspiring, helpful, and influential in their own growth. The best leaders possess those qualities and are equally able to laugh and direct their teams. Are you doing the same, or is it time to incorporate a little humor into your leadership style?