I was with a potential client a few weeks ago at a meeting and was observing a conversation, actually more of a debate. It was getting quite heated and, as it approached boiling point, I interjected a quick quip that stopped them both in their tracks and they laughed. It was a tension reliever moment.

They took a breath, realized that what they were debating was not life threatening and started to talk more rationally and then involved me in the conversation. In fact one of them said he was really OK if the other person wanted to do it their way.

What had just happened? It was The Humor Hit!

Humor can be so powerful and help in so many ways at work, and I have witnessed and been part of some. Let’s explore the importance of humor at work and it’s positive effects.

Defuses Difficult Situations

Just as in the example above, a small joke, or offhand (polite) remark can change the mood when things seem to be getting difficult.

Acts As A Time Out

Using humor creates a pause. It can act like a re-set button and allow everyone to take a breath and re-focus on what’s really important.

Better Problem Solving

Research has shown that people who laugh in response to a conflict tend to shift from convergent thinking and only one solution to divergent thinking with multiple ideas.

Relieves Stress

A really good laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling which can last up to 45 minutes.

Makes People Listen

David Stauffer, in a Harvard Management Update issue, says that the consistent use of appropriate humor gets people wanting to read and hear what you say.

Encourages Teamwork

There is growing research, according to Michael Kerr, that demonstrates when you laugh with someone you also share hormonal and neutron activity, which prompts mutual investment in each other’s well-being. It helps build relationships

Builds Trust

Numerous studies suggest that people who share a healthy, positive sense of humor tend to be more likable and are viewed as being trustworthy.


Humor can help in so many ways at work. We just need to take ourselves less seriously and look for ways to make light of things when we do. As Alan Rickman said “ I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously.”

Of course we can’t turn the hallowed business corridors into Comedy Central but we should always allow some room for humor.


Other articles you may also like:

6 Reasons To Laugh At Work

4 Reasons Why Listening Builds Relationships

Peter M. Beaumont is a Management Consultant and Owner of ConnXN. He is the author of The Relationship Roadmap and is a customer relationship mentor who helps those responsible for their stellar clients protect and grow their business. See more at

About the Author:

I am the customer relationship mentor, who helps those responsible for their company’s most important customers, to build and maintain their customer relationships and keep them happy, so that they can protect & grow their business.