As a leader involved with mediation, negotiations, and conflict resolution I have found humor to often assist at some point after authentic connecting relationships have been developed in the process. I wanted to offer some thoughts that you may find helpful in the fast-paced and often demanding environment of the workplace. Injecting a bit of humor can be a powerful tool to alleviate stress, improve mood, and foster a positive atmosphere among colleagues. Humor not only lightens the atmosphere but also has numerous health benefits,. For example, including increased oxygen flow to the heart, lungs, and brain, stimulation of circulation and relaxation, pain relief, and a boost to the immune system. Incorporating humor into the workplace can be a delicate balance, but when done appropriately, it can create a more enjoyable and productive work environment.


The often-serious Harvard Business Review has offered “How to be funny at work.” Research shows that when leaders offer any sense of humor it is seen as 27% more motivating and admired than those who do not joke around. Their employees are 15% or engaged and more than twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge.” Working with customers it was found that even a bad joke such as “My final offer is X and I’ll throw in my pet frog” increased customer’s willingness to pay by 18.” The Mayo Clinic shares that stress relief from laughter is no joke and offers ideas to make laughter the best medicine. Clearly there are benefits to be had by having a good sense of humor.

Jokes and light-hearted anecdotes

One effective way to infuse humor into the workplace is through the strategic use of jokes and light-hearted anecdotes. Sharing a funny story from your personal life, if it is appropriate and does not breach professional boundaries, can be a wonderful way to connect with colleagues on a human level. For instance, you could recount a humorous experience from a recent family gathering or a weekend adventure, allowing your peers to see the lighter side of your personality.

Inside jokes and playful remarks

Another avenue for workplace humor is embracing the amusing side of day-to-day office life. Inside jokes about shared challenges, quirks of the office culture, or even light teasing among colleagues can create a sense of camaraderie. Of course, it is essential to be mindful of sensitivities and ensure that humor remains inclusive rather than exclusionary. A playful remark about the shared struggles of Monday mornings or the office coffee machine can serve as a bonding mechanism, fostering a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

What about meetings?

Meetings are often a breeding ground for stress, but they also offer opportunities for injecting humor. Opening a meeting with a light-hearted icebreaker or a funny anecdote related to the agenda can set a positive tone and create a more engaging atmosphere. For example, in mediations with experts, attorneys, and decision makers I may initiate the session by asking each person to share something positive that has happened with them in the last 30 days. These are touching, insightful, and often humorous, helping to relief tension and see each other in a more human light. Additionally, using humor to diffuse tension during challenging discussions can help to keep the team focused and collaborative. For instance, if a meeting is becoming particularly intense, a well-timed, light joke or observation can serve as an effective tension breaker and refocus everyone on the task at hand.

Engage self-deprecating humor

Embracing self-deprecating humor can also be a powerful tool in the workplace. Acknowledging and laughing at your own mistakes or mishaps can humanize you in the eyes of your colleagues, making you more relatable. For example, sharing a lighthearted story about a recent blunder, such as sending an email to the wrong recipient or misplacing important documents, not only lightens the mood but also demonstrates humility. This kind of humor encourages a positive workplace culture where individuals feel comfortable admitting their mistakes and learning from them. Others can see that you are human and make mistakes too.

Visual forms of humor

Cartoons, memes, and other visual forms of humor can be shared through email or displayed in communal areas to provide a quick and amusing break during the workday. Choosing content that is relevant to the workplace or industry can make these visual aids even more enjoyable and relatable. A well-placed Dilbert cartoon or a clever meme about the challenges of office life can elicit laughs and serve as a shared moment of amusement among colleagues.

Celebrations with humor

Celebrating milestones and achievements with a touch of humor can also contribute to a positive work environment. When acknowledging a colleague's accomplishments, incorporating a funny twist or a light-hearted gesture can make the recognition more memorable and enjoyable for everyone involved. For instance, instead of a standard congratulatory email, consider sending a humorous e-card or a playful token of appreciation to add an element of fun to the recognition process.

Team building and humor

Implementing team-building activities that incorporate humor can strengthen the bonds between colleagues. Engaging in activities such as improv workshops, comedy nights, or even team-building games with a humorous twist can create shared experiences that foster a sense of unity. These activities not only provide a break from the daily grind but also encourage creativity and collaboration in a relaxed and enjoyable setting.

Benefits of humor

A workplace that embraces humor also benefits from increased employee morale and job satisfaction. Creating a culture where laughter is welcomed and encouraged helps employees look forward to coming to work, fostering a cheerful outlook that can extend to other aspects of their professional lives. This positive atmosphere, in turn, can lead to higher productivity, better teamwork, and increased overall job satisfaction.

Cautions about boundaries

However, it is crucial to be mindful of the boundaries of humor in the workplace. What may be amusing to one person might be offensive to another, so it is essential to gauge the collective comfort level and always prioritize inclusivity. Avoiding humor that relies on stereotypes, offensive language, or sensitive topics is paramount in maintaining a respectful and positive work environment. Do not use cuss words, avoid any content that is sexual in nature, and do not be negative towards groups of people.

Laugh together periodically – it is good for everyone

In conclusion, humor is a valuable and often underutilized tool in the workplace that can significantly contribute to employee well-being and overall job satisfaction. From sharing personal anecdotes and office-related jokes to incorporating humor into meetings and recognition efforts, there are ways to infuse laughter into the workday. By fostering a positive and inclusive culture of humor,

organizations can create an environment where employees feel more connected, engaged, and motivated, leading to a more productive and enjoyable workplace.

Laughing together periodically will create a more positive atmosphere. So, do not underestimate the power of a well-timed joke or a shared laugh – it might just be the key to unlocking a happier and more harmonious work environment.

If you’re looking for some assistance related to collaboration or conflict resolution, or enhancing your Servant Manager skills, check out these links.

This blog was AI aided.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]