Be Funnier at Work: 4 Easy Tips

Josh Hay

happy team

We’d all like to be funnier. But science tells us there are two ways it could go:  Using jokes the wrong way can be bad for our careers.  Using jokes well increases our leadership, productivity and others’ trust in us. But scientists don’t have good tips on how to become funny. Seeing as our science guys seem stuck, I’m going to tell you ways I joke at work.

1. Banter like a bubbly boy

If someone makes a joke, I don’t wanna leave them hanging. It’s lonely, alone in jokeland.

But here’s the secret.  Your colleague has just told a joke. He wants to laugh at it himself. But he can’t because of the don’t-be-a-moron-and-laugh-at-your-own-joke rule. You can see him trying to straighten his creeping smile.

Free him. Say a joke too, and then he’s allowed to laugh. He will. It’s scary because you’re flying by the seat of your pants here, but don’t worry, because your reply just has to follow along the same trajectory as his joke:

Him: “I think at one point during Raj’s presentation he became the new Tony Robins.”

You: “All I remember is falling on my knees and crying like a baby.”

Then he laughs.

Her: “I think reviewing the products our organization produced 10 years ago actually lowered my IQ.”

You: “We should have called the series ‘Conflict Resolution for One-Celled Amoebas’.”

Her: Heh he hah ha ha hoo!

2. Grossly overstate your failures and successes

Recently, I described a youth training I led this way, “In the morning, with the Grade 7s, it was happiness and ponies and butterflies and oh, me, oh my, we love you, Mr. Workshop Facilitator. Then in the afternoon, the sky turned black, there was this lightning, and an evil spirit of incompetent facilitating crept into the room.”

Why keep it simple?

3. Even Nick should have a nickname

I work with Sam a lot.  Here’s the progression of what I’ve called him:

  1. Sam
  2. Sam-Bam
  3. Bammer
  4. Bammerhead
  5. Bammerhead Shark
  6. Shark

I use nicknames so much, I forget people’s real names.

And you know, I get it – some people don’t like nicknames. I avoid using them with the no-nickname crowd.  But those folks eventually become jealous – others have nicknames, so they turn into the please-nickname-me crowd.

4. Imagine you’re on a movie set

Use alliterations, rhyme it, rap it, sing it like you’re in La La Land, or describe it like your co-worker is the star of Mission Impossible:

You: (Spoken with complete seriousness) “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to wake the boss up by bringing him a Pike Place with two cream. Do you accept, Mrs. Hienkite?”

If someone who reports to you has been short with you and hasn’t finished his draft because you’ve overwhelmed him with tasks, you should come by his cubical with a cap and sing, “Sorry”, by Justin Bieber: “Is it too late now to say sorry? ’Cause I’m missing more than just your copy.”

That’s a definite must.

Next month I’ll post some more advanced humour tricks, and I’ll tackle the tricky but important topic of teasing your co-workers.

Mike Labun
Trainer, ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership & Workplace PerformanceTo receive notification of a new blog posting, subscribe to our mailing list or follow us on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn© ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership & Workplace Performance (
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