Lighten Up and Get Ahead

March 26, 2014 in Executive Presence by Connie Glaser

Research reveals that leaders of successful companies have two traits in common: A sense of humor about themselves and a willingness to laugh at things. In other words, a dash of fun and levity in the workplace can work wonders. But gender differences in humor are no laughing matter. To avoid humor misfires, follow these tips…

Strategies for Women

  • Incorporate a sense of humor in your management style. It will make you appear relaxed, confident and approachable—and people will still take you seriously.
  • Understand that self-deprecating humor may work with other women, but men see it as literally putting yourself down.
  • Don’t take jokes personally. Men’s humor rituals involve playful taunting, and they don’t get it when you take offense. Instead, learn to fight humor with humor.

Strategies for Men

  • Keep it light and neutral. In general, women don’t find sarcasm, teasing and put-downs funny.
  • Stick to safe topics. Inappropriate humor (sex-related, race-related, even gender-related) can be offensive to women and may get you in trouble with higher-ups as well.
  • Understand that women’s self-deprecating humor is a ritual. Don’t take it literally.

Used correctly, humor can be an extremely powerful business tool. It fosters good relationships, bonds people together and has been shown to stimulate creative problem- solving. Lightening up also puts problems in perspective, takes the fear out of making mistakes, encourages people to take risks and helps folks set and reach goals. And this is true regardless of gender!